White House accuses Russia of striking arms-for-food deal with North Korea as Kremlin scrambles for arms in fight against Ukraine
- Russia wants more than two dozen weapons from North Korea
- Moscow offers food to the starving nation in exchange
- “Any arms deal between North Korea and Russia would directly violate a series of UN Security Council resolutions,” John Kirby said.
Russia is seeking a range of weapons from North Korea to bolster its fight in Ukraine, the White House charged on Thursday, and, in return, offering food to the starving nation.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Moscow was looking for “more than two dozen types of weapons and ammunition” in Pyongyang.
“Under this proposed deal, Russia would receive more than two dozen types of weapons and ammunition from Pyongyang,” Kirby said. “We also understand that Russia is seeking to send a delegation to North Korea and that Russia is offering food to North Korea in exchange for ammunition.”
Russia wants to buy weapons from North Korea and has offered the starving nation food in return – above a field in North Korea
North Korea is facing its worst food crisis since battling a famine in the 1990s.
Data and satellite images reviewed by the United Nations suggest that the food supply has now “fallen below the amount needed to meet minimum human needs”, said Lucas Rengifo-Keller, research analyst at the Peterson Institute for International. Economics, to CNN earlier this month.
But officials also blame North Korea for a problem of their own, as leader Kim Jong Un has increased the isolation between his country and the rest of the world.
During the pandemic, Pyongyang erected a second layer of fences 300 kilometers from its border with China and shut down most foreign trade.
And, over the past year, it has focused its resources on missile testing.
Kim pledged to tighten state control over agriculture and take other steps to increase grain production, North Korean state media reported earlier this month.
But Russia’s offer is the latest sign Vladimir Putin is scrambling for ammunition as he struggles to win over Ukraine. The Russian president turned to rogue countries after being hit with sanctions from the United States and its Western allies.
The administration previously declassified intelligence to present evidence that Iran sold hundreds of attack drones to Russia over the summer. There are reports that China is planning to sell weapons to Moscow, although no sale has yet taken place.
“Any arms deal between North Korea and Russia would directly violate a series of UN Security Council resolutions,” Kirby noted. “We have taken note of recent statements by North Korea that it will not supply or sell weapons to Russia. And we continue to monitor this closely.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects nuclear warheads at undisclosed location
White House spokesman John Kirby said the administration is closely monitoring Vladimir Putin’s actions
Earlier Thursday, the United States said it imposed sanctions on a Slovak man for trying to arrange the sale of more than two dozen types of North Korean weapons to Russia.
The Treasury Department said it imposed sanctions on Slovak national Ashot Mkrtychev “for attempting, directly or indirectly, to import, export, or re-export to, from, or from the DPRK arms or related materiel.”
Between late 2022 and early 2023, the Treasury said Mkrtychev worked with North Korean officials to obtain more than two dozen types of weapons and ammunition for Russia in exchange for commercial aircraft, raw materials and products to send to North Korea.
Mkrtychev worked with a Russian citizen to find commercial planes to deliver goods to North Korea as part of the exchange.
“Russia has lost more than 9,000 pieces of heavy military equipment since the war began, and thanks in part to multilateral sanctions and export controls, Putin is increasingly desperate to replace them,” the statement said. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a statement. “Schemes like the arms deal pursued by this individual show that Putin is turning to suppliers of last resort like Iran and the DPRK.”