Russia Is Buying North Korean Artillery, According to U.S. Intelligence


HR King
May 29, 2001
Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea, according to newly declassified American intelligence, a sign that global sanctions have severely restricted its supply chains and forced Moscow to turn to pariah states for military supplies.
The disclosure comes days after Russia received initial shipments of Iranian-made drones, some of which American officials said had mechanical problems. U.S. government officials said Russia’s decision to turn to Iran, and now North Korea, was a sign that sanctions and export controls imposed by the United States and Europe were hurting Moscow’s ability to obtain supplies for its army.
The United States provided few details from the declassified intelligence about the exact weaponry, timing or size of the shipment, and there is no way yet to independently verify the sale. A U.S. official said that, beyond short-range rockets and artillery shells, Russia was expected to try to purchase additional North Korean equipment going forward.

“The Kremlin should be alarmed that it has to buy anything at all from North Korea,” said Mason Clark, who leads the Russia team at the Institute for the Study of War.
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Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House began declassifying intelligence reports about Moscow’s military plans — then disclosing that material, first to allies privately and then to the public. After something of a lull in the disclosures, the American government has once again begun declassifying information to highlight the struggles of Russia’s military, including the recent intelligence about the purchase of Iranian drones and the Russian army’s problems recruiting soldiers.
Broad economic sanctions, at least so far, have not crippled Russia. Energy prices, driven up by the invasion, have filled its treasury and enabled Moscow to blunt the fallout of its banks being cut off from international finance and curbs on exports and imports. Sanctions against individual Russian oligarchs also have failed to undercut the power of President Vladimir V. Putin.
But American officials said that, when it came to Russia’s ability to rebuild its military, the economic actions of Europe and the United States had been effective. American and European sanctions have blocked Russia’s ability to buy weaponry, or electronics to make that weaponry.
Moscow had hoped that China would be willing to buck those export controls and continue to supply the Russian military. But in recent days, American officials have said that while China was willing to buy Russian oil at a discount, Beijing, at least so far, has respected the export controls aimed at Moscow’s military and not tried to sell either military equipment or components.

Gina Raimondo, the commerce secretary, has repeatedly warned China that if Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China’s largest computer chip maker, or other companies violate sanctions against Russia, the United States will effectively shut down those businesses, cutting off their access to the American technology they need to make semiconductors.