On Wednesday, October 2nd, 2022, John Kirby, the White House National Security Council’s spokesperson, said that North Korea is secretly supplying Russia with artillery shells to aid in its war against Ukraine. He said North Korea is attempting to obscure the shipment destination by funneling a large number of artillery shells through North Africa and the Middle East.
Kirby said that the U.S.A would monitor the shipments to determine if Russia would accept them. He added that the shells were significant in number but not in a quantity that would change the war’s momentum.
Kirby did not disclose how North Korea shipped the artillery shells or the countries suspected to be transfer points. He said the U.S.A knew where the weapons were going and would continue looking at its options.
The allegations concerning North Korea come on top of proof that Russia has also received weapons from Iran, particularly Iranian-made drones, to supplement the war efforts in Ukraine. The fact that Russia has turned to both pariah states that have spent years under sanctions aimed at ending nuclear weapon development is a sign that Russia has a shortage of weapons.
However, practical limitations to getting the weapons to Russia exist, especially if it wants them fast. Bruce W. Bennet, a defense researcher working with the Rand Corp, said artillery is heavy, and sending it to Russia by ship would take weeks. Bennet said that it is as more likely that North Korea would send some of the shells through China. There, trains can carry the load through Central Asia to Iran. This would make it almost impossible for the U.S.A and its allies to halt the supply of artillery shells before they reach their destination.
Bennet also said that North Korea is likely using several routes to keep the Western nations guessing. Part of the shipments may be taking place through ships and others through trains since Russia expects to be in the war in Ukraine for an extended period.