The White House has accused North Korea of shipping a “significant” amount of artillery shells to help Russia in its ongoing brutal invasion of Ukraine.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Nov. 2 that Kim Jong-Un’s regime is “covertly supplying the ammunition” whilst “trying to make appear as though they’re being sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa.”
However, Kirby stressed his belief that the shipments are “not going to change the course of the war.”
“We don’t believe that they are in such a quantity that they would change the direction of the war or tangibly change the momentum either in the East or in the South,” he said in a virtual briefing. “Our indications are that the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is covertly supplying [ammunition] and we are going to monitor to see whether the shipments are received.”
Kirby also confirmed that the U.S. would consult with the United Nations (UN) on accountability for the shipments and potential repercussions.
“We do have a sense on where they are going to transfer these shells,” he said. “Just as we’re using every tool, and will use every tool to counter the Iranian provision of weapons to Russia, we will do the same when it comes to the DPRK’s provisions of weapons to Russia.”
In September, the U.S. imposed sanctions on an Iranian company accused of facilitating the transportation of Iranian drones to Russia. The drones are being used to carry out attacks on Ukraine – one of which killed a young pregnant woman and her partner during an attack on Kyiv on Oct. 17.
With his forces experiencing significant losses from Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin has resorted to asking his dwindling allies for help in carrying out his so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine – an illegal invasion he’d originally claimed would only take a matter of days to win.
North Korea has long held close ties with Russia, with the former Soviet Union, in 1948, being the first to officially recognize North Korea as the sole authority over all of Korea. Soviet Armed Forces also provided assistance to North Korea during the bloody Korean War that ended in 1953, with North Korea being an official member of the Communist bloc.
In August of this year, North Korea became the third country after Russian and Syria to recognize the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine, after sham referenda were held in each region.
North Korea and Russia share a border along the lower Tumen River, and on Aug. 7, pro-Kremlin Russian news agency Regum stated that North Korea had made it clear “through diplomatic channels” that Jong-Un was willing to provide 100,000 soldiers to fight alongside Russia in Ukraine.
To date, North Korean troops have not materialized in the breakaway regions to which they were allegedly pledged – but Russia has purchased arms and military equipment from the secretive nation.
Kirby said that the recent supply of ammunition to Russia “is certainly not going to change our calculus… or with so many of our allies and partners about the kinds of capabilities we’re going to continue to provide the Ukrainians.
The retired rear admiral and current Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House also hinted at the possibility of further sanctions being placed on North Korea.
“There are existing sanctions on the books,” he said. “We will look at additional tools and authorities that we may be able to call upon to counter this activity.”