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South Korean intelligence: North Korea suspected of supplying Russia with weapons made in 1970s

by Dmytro Basmat May 13, 2024 3:22 AM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Russia on Sept. 13, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes (Vladimir Smirnov / POOL / AFP)
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South Korea's intelligence service is conducting a review into suspicions that North Korea has provided Russia with artillery shells and other weaponry manufactured in the 1970s, the country's National Intelligence Service (NIS) said on May 12.

The NIS' remarks come in response to recent South Korean media reports that allege 122 mm artillery shells manufactured in North Korea in the 1970s were used on Ukraine's eastern front. Both Ukrainian and U.S. officials have previously confirmed that Russia has been using North Korean-produced weaponry to attack Ukraine.

"The NIS is analyzing the relevant circumstance in detail and also continues to track overall military cooperation between North Korea and Russia," the intelligence agency said, amid concern that North Korea is procuring older weapons to develop new ones.

With Russia's military stocks running low and domestic production capacity simultaneously hampered by Western sanctions, North Korea has been shaping up as Russia's leading weapons supplier, reportedly providing Moscow with extensive military packages, including ballistic missiles and over 3 million artillery shells.

According to U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken, these military ties are increasingly a "two-way street," in which North Korea provides Russia with military equipment to use in Ukraine.

South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik previously said that Pyongyang has shipped at least 6,700 ammunition containers to Russia since the two leaders met last September 2023.

"It seems that food accounts for the largest proportion (of shipments from Russia), which is believed to have stabilized food prices in North Korea, with other necessities also included," Shin said in February.

Shin also said in January that Russia is likely purchasing more advanced missiles from North Korea that could be used on the battlefield in Ukraine.

According to the U.N. report, inspectors concluded that Russia used missiles procured from North Korea in a strike on Kharkiv that killed at least three people and injured dozens more.

Russia's purchase of North Korean weaponry is a violation of U.N. sanctions.

Civilians flee Vovchansk under Russian bombardment as ground offensive on Kharkiv begins
Vovchansk is ground zero of Russia’s new offensive into Kharkiv Oblast, the first time a serious push has been made to take territory across the border since the area was liberated from Russian occupation in 2022.

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