North Korea now aiding overstretched Russia, stepping into role as top weapons provider — intel head

Kyrylo Budanov
Kyrylo Budanov

North Korea is the largest supplier of weapons to Russia, chief of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Kyrylo Budanov said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Jan. 21.

"They have transferred a significant amount of artillery ammunition," the spy chief said.

“This allowed Russia to breathe a little bit. Without their help, the situation would have been catastrophic.”

Read also: North Korean FM to visit Russia at Lavrov’s invitation

The Russian Federation expends far more weapons and ammunition than it can produce, while also struggling with quality control.

"This is precisely what motivates Russia’s search for weapons in other countries," said Budanov.

Read also: North Korea crossed ‘red line’ by supplying missiles to Russia — Zelenskyy

Russia would of course prefer to avoid relying on external assistance as "this has always been considered beneath them, it’s an indignity."

Another problem Russia faces is manpower. According to Budanov, Moscow is losing as many, or even more, troops than it can recruit.

According to Defense Express, Moscow may have received KN-23 ballistic missiles, which are similar to the Russian Iskander-M, from Pyongyang.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Russia struck Ukraine with North Korean ballistic missiles on Dec. 30, 2023, and Jan. 2 and 6, 2024.

During the first attack, a missile sourced from the DPRK fell in Zaporizhzhya Oblast. More North Korean missiles were fired by Russia on Jan. 2.

According to the White House, Russia again fired several North Korean missiles at Ukraine on Jan. 6.

South Korea's representative to the UN, Hwang Joon-kook, said that North Korea is using Ukraine as a "testing ground" for ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

North Korea called the U.S. accusations of transferring ballistic missiles to Russia for the war against Ukraine "groundless."

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