Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:
North Korea has once again denied accusations that it has been selling weapons and munitions to Russia.
Claims are “groundless”
As reported by Reuters, Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun said that North Korea had shipped munitions, such as artillery shells, by train to Russia. It added that more transfers were expected in the near future.
North Korea has categorically rejected those claims, saying on Dec. 23 that the accusations were “groundless” and were the “most absurd red herring”, and did not merit comment.
North Korea, however, did comment further, condemning the U.S. for “bringing bloodshed and destruction” to Ukraine by continuing to supply it with weapons.
This is not the first time that North Korea has been accused of aiding Russia’s war effort. There have been repeated reports from as far back as September that Russia was either seeking transfers of military arms from North Korea, or that such transfers had taken place.
Wagner set up in in 2014 when Crimea was invaded
These fresh arms sales claims comes in the wake of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the U.S. on Dec. 21.
White House officials had also accused North Korea of selling weapons to Russian forces.
According to the BBC, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council John Kirby said that the U.S. could confirm that North Korea had supplied infantry rockets and missiles to Russia’s Wagner Group in November.
Wagner is a Russian mercenary company set up in 2014 — in time to take part in the occupation of Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine.
It is now spearheading efforts to take the city of Bakhmut from Ukraine, and has fought a months long battle for the city with little territorial gain.
Kirby said that Wagner is spending US$100 million (S$135 million) a month to continue the fight in Bakhmut alone.
A report from The Washington Post places Wagner’s casualty rate in recents weeks as high as a thousand, calling their troops “ill equipped and ill prepared”.
The group’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is said to be a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has rubbished these claims, saying that the accusations were nothing but “gossip and rumour”. He added that North Korea had never supplied the group and there had never been efforts to arrange such a weapons transfer.
Desperation on the part of Russia
Claims that Russia is sourcing ammunition from countries such as North Korea and Iran are often used to illustrate a worsening supply issue for the Russian military.
The earlier referenced BBC report quoted United Kingdom Foreign Secretary James Cleverly as saying that Russia was increasingly desperate and isolated.
Like North Korea, Iran has also resisted the accusation that it is supplying arms to Russia, but this has become an increasingly untenable stance as Ukrainian cities have defended themselves from drones that are clearly of Iranian make.
Top image via Getty Images