White House says North Korea is sending ‘significant’ number of artillery shells to Russia for Ukraine war.
The United States has accused North Korea of supplying Russia with a “significant” number of artillery shells for use in Ukraine as Moscow increasingly asks allies to help with the war effort.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday that the alleged North Korean arms shipments are unlikely to change the course of the conflict, stressing Western efforts to support Ukraine’s military.
“Our leads are that the DPRK is delivering covertly and we will be monitoring for supplies coming in,” Kirby told reporters, referring to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
He did not share details about the mode of transport or whether the US would try to cut off shipments to Russia.
Tuesday’s announcement comes amid heightened U.S. tensions with North Korea, which fired nearly two dozen missiles on Wednesday, including one that landed near South Korean waters. Pyongyang has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year despite US and international sanctions.
Earlier in the week, US and South Korean forces conducted major joint air exercises, prompting an angry response from North Korea, which described the exercises as a “relentless and ruthless” provocation.
On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Pyongyang appears to be “reaching for another pretext for provocations it has already undertaken, possibly for provocations it may be planning in the coming days or weeks.”
The US has warned competitors and adversaries – including China – not to come to Russia’s aid in Ukraine.
Washington and Kyiv have also accused Tehran of supplying Moscow with drones used in deadly strikes across Ukraine – allegations Iran denies.
Last month, Kirby said Iranian personnel were deployed “right on the ground” in Crimea to help train Russian forces on how to use drones.
The US and European Union have slapped sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies, alleging links to the country’s drone industry and supplies to Russia.
Since Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine in February, its military campaign has been marred by setbacks. In recent months, Ukrainian forces, supported by US weapons, have retaken large areas in a counter-offensive in the east of the country.
Washington and its allies have imposed sanctions on Russia over the war and have provided military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
In September, the US Congress passed legislation allocating $12 billion in funding to Ukraine, adding to the tens of billions of dollars in aid approved earlier this year.