North Korea has sent a large arms delivery to the Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary force whose influence and operations in Ukraine are growing, according to the Biden administration.
North Korea last month shipped infantry rockets and missiles to the Wagner Group, which paid for the weaponry, John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said Thursday.
The shipment comes as Moscow’s war in Ukraine enters another critical stage, with Russian President Vladimir Putin scrambling to find more forces and weaponry to continue to execute the war, now in its 10th month. U.S. officials believe there will be no significant progress made by either side as winter sets in.
The arrival of arms from North Korea is also a reminder of the role Pyongyang is attempting to play on the global stage after a series of provocative missile tests in recent months.
Russia had sought arms from Pyongyang weeks ago, but Mr. Kirby’s announcement was the first acknowledgment by U.S. officials that an arms sale had been completed. In early November, the White House said North Korea was covertly funneling artillery shells to Russia but it was unclear whether such shipments had been received.
North Korea now joins Iran as another U.S. adversary assisting Russia’s war in Ukraine. Iran has for months been sending drones to Russia and conducting training of Moscow’s forces.
North Korea’s arms shipment wasn’t expected to be the last, Mr. Kirby said.
“We assess that the amount of materiel delivered to Wagner will not change battlefield dynamics in Ukraine, but we are certainly concerned that North Korea is planning to deliver more military equipment,” he said. [Continue reading…]