WASHINGTON — As aid from the West continues to flow to Ukraine and its own military is increasingly strained by a war entering its ninth month, Russia is turning to other outcasts in the international community for arms supplies.
Russia’s attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian targets last month were carried out by Shahed-136 drones deployed by Iran, in violation of sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
(Moscow and Tehran disputed the origin of the drones, but Western observers were unconvinced.)
Now, intelligence agencies are suggesting that Russia is also receiving aid from North Korea, another heavily sanctioned nation that operates outside the bounds of international norms. North Korea “is secretly supplying a significant number of artillery shells to Russia’s war in Ukraine, while obscuring the real target of the arms shipments by trying to make it appear that they are going to countries in the Middle East and North Africa,” National The Spokesman of the Security Council, John Kirby, told reporters at a briefing Wednesday morning.
He did not specify which countries served as “stopovers” for North Korean supplies, although Iran and Syria would be obvious candidates. Kirby also declined to say how the United States obtained information about the shipments or whether efforts are being made to intercept future shipments.
“We will, of course, consult with allies and partners, particularly at the UN, on additional accountability measures,” Kirby told reporters. In October, the United Nations, by a rare unanimous vote, voted nearly unanimously to condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian territories. North Korea and Syria both voted against the measure.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine in February, he expected a quick victory culminating in regime change in Kyiv. Instead, he now finds himself locked in a bitter war, which Ukraine is winning through the innovative use of sophisticated Western weaponry.
Russia has suffered staggering casualties as a result, with perhaps as many as 70,000 soldiers killed since the conflict began. Equipment losses were also overwhelming: 1,183 tanks and 1,304 infantry fighting vehicles were destroyed since the beginning of the war.
And with Russia’s own economy severely crippled by sanctions, it has sought help from rogue regimes like those in Tehran and Pyongyang.
In addition to drones, Iran could be preparing to send guided missiles to Russia, the Pentagon believes. “We have concerns that Russia may also seek to acquire additional advanced munitions capability from Iran — such as surface-to-surface missiles — for use in Ukraine,” Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said earlier this week.
Iran is believed to have deployed members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to Crimea last month to help train Russians on how to use their new Shahed-136 drones.
North Korea and Russia agreed on an ammunition sale a few weeks ago; only now does this sale seem to have finally been completed.
“We don’t think this will change the course of the war,” Kirby said of the delivery, though he said the number of shells was “not insignificant.”
Alongside North Korea and Iran, Belarus is one of the few countries in the world willing to help Russia invade Ukraine: its authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko is a close ally of Putin.
China has notably refrained from efforts to punish or isolate Russia, and the two neighboring superpowers have maintained robust trade ties. And while China and Russia also have close military ties, Beijing has so far shown little interest in helping Putin on the battlefield.
https://news.yahoo.com/russia-rogue-allies-north-korea-iran-ukraine-war-172637932.html Russia is turning to its fellow outcasts North Korea and Iran for help with the stalled war effort