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Russia planning North Korean rockets purchase, claims US

This graphic shows some of the KN-23 SRBM variants developed and tested by North Korea since 2019. The KN-23 is assessed as a derivative of the 9K720 Iskander-M (SS-26 ‘Stone') SRBM introduced into Russian service in 2006. (Janes)

Russia plans to procure “millions” of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea to support its war effort in Ukraine, a US administration official told Janes on 6 September.

The development signals Pyongyang's deepening defence ties with Moscow and, the official said, possible Russian military supply shortages in Ukraine.

“The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use on the battlefield in Ukraine,” said the administration official.

“This purchase indicates that the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine, due in part to export controls and sanctions. We expect Russia could try to purchase additional North Korean military equipment going forward,” the official added.

Russian efforts to acquire military equipment from North Korea were reiterated in a US Department of Defense press briefing the same day. Earlier reports had indicated that the information was sourced from US intelligence agencies.

“We do have indications that Russia has approached North Korea to request ammunition,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said in the briefing.

He did not elaborate on the request but said it is “indicative of the situation that Russia finds itself in terms of its logistics and sustainment capabilities as it relates to Ukraine”.

Brig Gen Ryder added, “The fact that [Russia is] reaching out to North Korea is a sign that they're having some challenges on the sustainment front.”

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