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North Korean troops fighting in Ukraine would be 'cannon fodder,' Pentagon says

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 26, 2024 7:38 AM 2 min read
Pentagon Spokesperson Gen. Pat Ryder at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Oct. 31, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
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North Korean troops would become "cannon fodder" if they joined Russian forces on the battlefield in Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder said during a briefing on June 25.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a strategic defense agreement between Moscow and Pyongyang on June 19. As part of the alliance, the North Korean military has announced that its engineer unit would join Russian forces on the ground in Donetsk Oblast as soon as next month.

"I think that if I were North Korean military personnel management, I would be questioning my choices on sending my forces to be cannon fodder in an illegal war against Ukraine," Ryder said.

Ryder said that the accelerating military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, including the possible deployment of North Korean troops in Ukraine, is "something to keep an eye on."

The agreement between Kim and Putin declares that "In case any one of the two sides is put in a state of war by an armed invasion from an individual state or several states, the other side shall provide military and other assistance with all means in its possession without delay."

Following the pact, South Korea said it would reconsider supplying weapons to Ukraine.

North Korea has emerged as a leading weapons supplier to Russia as Moscow faces reduced military stocks and production capacity simultaneously hampered by Western sanctions.  Internal Russian trade data obtained by the Washington Post shows that Russia may have received 1.6 million artillery shells from North Korea over the course of six months.

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