The United States is concerned that Russia and North Korea are actively negotiating on the supply of weapons, the representative of the US National Security Council of the White House said John Kirby at the briefing on Wednesday, August 30.
As Kirby said, according to U.S. intelligence, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently visited North Korea, where he tried to convince Pyongyang to sell Russia artillery ammunition, and Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged letters agreeing to expand bilateral cooperation.
“Today we can share information that the arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea are actively advancing. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently visited North Korea to try to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Russia. Following that visit, President Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un exchanged letters pledging to expand bilateral cooperation,” Kirby said.
He added that the United States has intelligence indicating that another group of Russian officials traveled to Pyongyang after the defense minister’s visit.
Russia is eager to get the weapons its military needs to use in the war against Ukraine, Kirby said. According to him, Russia is also interested in raw materials that will help Russia’s defense and industrial base.
Kirby stressed that any arms deals between Russia and North Korea would violate UN Security Council resolutions.
“We call on North Korea to stop arms negotiations with Russia and to abide by the public commitments made by Pyongyang not to supply or sell arms to Russia,” Kirby told reporters.
Asked what Moscow’s search for cooperation indicated, Kirby said it was clearly “common weakness.”
“Why else would Mr. Putin look to Iran, North Korea to try to get artillery shells and basic materials so he can continue to build up his defense industrial base. There is no other way to look at it. That desperation and weakness, frankly,” added Kirby.
He explained that Putin has “achieved zero strategic goals in Ukraine” in more than 18 months of a large-scale invasion, while Russia has lost “tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of soldiers killed or wounded in this war.”
“He (Putin) is looking to Iran for drones and to North Korea for artillery and basic electronic components to finance the arming of his forces. And the Ukrainians are now advancing in the east,” said Kirby.
The representative of the White House also noted that the case of the head of the “Wagner Group” Evgeny Prigozhin, who recently died in a plane crash, fits very well into this context.
“He had almost exclusively relied on him to try to take a city in Donbas called Bakhmut. And then this private military contractor, that major unit, is actually leading its own takeover attempt at at least the Department of Defense,” Kirby says.
“It’s hard to look at it and see anything other than weakness,” Kirby concluded.
In mid-August, the US Treasury Department sanctioned three companies linked to a network that tried to facilitate arms sales between Russia and North Korea in violation of sanctions.
The statement said that as Russia continues to run out of ammunition and lose heavy equipment on the battlefield, “it is increasingly forced to turn to its few allies, including North Korea, to maintain an unprovoked war in Ukraine.”
The ministry emphasized that the US is working to identify, expose and obstruct representatives of third countries who seek to support Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine.