White House says Russia looking to trade food for North Korean munitions
The White House said Russia is “actively seeking” to acquire North Korean-made munitions for use against Ukraine and has offered to trade Pyongyang food in exchange for the weapons.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Thursday that Russia’s quest for North Korean munitions is a consequence of the American and European sanctions that have been imposed on Moscow since Russian forces began invading Ukraine last year.
In January, the White House claimed that Russia’s Wagner Group had received trainloads of arms from North Korea last year.
Mr Kirby said the Biden Administration remains “concerned” that Pyongyang will provide further support for Russia’s war in Ukraine, and said a private arms dealer has been trying to broker a secret agreement between the two countries.
Under that agreement, Russia “would receive over two dozen kinds of weapons and munitions” from North Korea, Mr Kirby said.
He added that Russia is understood to be offering food in exchange for those weapons.
“The arms deal between North Korea and Russia would directly violate a series of UN Security Council resolutions,” he said, adding that the US has “taken note” of statements by North Korean officials who’ve said the country won’t supply arms to Russia.
“We are continuing to monitor this closely,” he said. “We're going to continue to identify, expose and counter Russian attempts to acquire military equipment from North Korea or from any other state that is prepared to support its war in Ukraine. We will continue to take action, including by imposing additional sanctions to cut off Putin's war machine and further diminish Russia's ability to wage its brutal war against Ukraine”.