Russia and North Korea are engaged in secret negotiations to secure an arms deal for Moscow’s ongoing war in Ukraine, according to the White House.
Pyongyang provided rockets and missiles to Moscow for use by the Wagner mercenary group early on in the war and is now considering further military assistance, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
“[North Korea] delivered infantry rockets and missiles into Russia for use by Wagner,” Mr. Kirby said during an Aug. 30 press call. “Since then, Russia has been actively seeking to acquire additional munitions from [North Korea].
“We have new information ... that arms negotiations between Russia and [North Korea] are actively advancing.”
Mr. Kirby said that despite Pyongyang’s insistence that it wouldn’t provide further aid to Moscow, new intelligence suggests that Moscow is seeking “significant quantities and multiple types of munitions” and “raw materials” for its military–industrial base, as well as “electronic components” for use in military systems.
The intelligence includes an exchange of correspondence between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mr. Kirby noted.
The letters followed two apparent in-person negotiations between Russian and North Korean officials in which Moscow sought to secure weapons from Pyongyang. The first meeting was conducted by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who visited Pyongyang. That meeting was followed by another delegation of Russian officials to Pyongyang.
To that end, Mr. Kirby said the United States expected that “high-level discussion may continue in coming months.” The United States will continue to collect intelligence and expose attempts by any party to support Russia’s attempted conquest of Ukraine.
“We’re going to keep watching it closely through a variety of means of intelligence,” he said.
Putin ‘Failed’ to Achieve Primary Objectives in UkraineMore than a year of brutal fighting in occupied eastern Ukraine has resulted in low stocks of munitions in Russia, Ukraine, and Ukraine’s partner nations.
Mr. Kirby described the conflict as a “gunfight” and said that “both sides are blazing away with artillery.”
Whereas Ukraine has been supported by a multinational group of partner nations, international sanctions on Russia have forced Moscow to increasingly rely on what Mr. Kirby referred to as “rogue regimes.”
North Korea isn’t the only power to cooperate with Russia or to support its war in Ukraine, however.
Mr. Kirby suggested that Moscow’s reliance on such rogue states demonstrated the continued failure of Russian leadership to achieve any of its core objectives in Ukraine.
“He’s going to Iran. He’s going to North Korea to try to get artillery shells and the basic materials so that he can continue to shore up his defense industrial base,” Mr. Kirby said of Mr. Putin. “There is no other way to look at that than desperation and weakness.”
Ukraine Gaining Ground in Slow CounteroffensiveUkraine and Russia have been locked in a grinding war of attrition for several months as Kyiv has attempted to push its counteroffensive further into the Russian-occupied east.
Robotyne sits on the road between the frontline town of Orikhiv, Ukraine, and the Russian-occupied rail hub of Tokmak. Its strategic placement could give Ukraine further ability to attack key Russian supply lines.
If Ukrainian forces can push from Robotyne into Tokmak, roughly 18 miles south, they could effectively split the Russian forces occupying the region north of the Sea of Azov, cutting off supplies to Russian units located in Kherson and western Zaporizhzhia.
Still, the fighting is intense, and there remain hundreds of miles of minefields and an increasingly bitter drone and missile campaign to contend with.
While Kyiv has sought advanced warplanes from the West for months, it has—until now—been prevented from obtaining the U.S.-made aircraft by the United States, possibly because of concerns they could be used to attack the Russian homeland, thereby further escalating the war in Europe.
Russia Strikes at Ukraine’s Food, Civilian InfrastructureThere remains the issue of the ever-increasing drone and missile war between Moscow and Kyiv, in which both sides have accused one another of terrorism for the targeting of nonmilitary targets.
Similarly, several drone attacks in Moscow in recent months appear to have targeted Russian intelligence officials in their offices and homes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged the earlier drone strikes in Moscow during a speech, saying it was fair that the war should come to the homeland of “Russian terrorists.”
The effort appears to be part of a wider campaign by Russia to limit or destroy Ukraine’s ability to feed itself and much of the world, according to the U.S. State Department.
Russia has also announced that all ships proceeding to Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea will be considered potential carriers of military cargo for an enemy state, regardless of whether they’re flagged as civilian ships or what nation’s flag they fly.