Russia is trying to buy North Korean weapons in exchange for food, White House says

Russia is seeking arms from North Korea in exchange for food, the White House said on Thursday.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the Kremlin plans to send a delegation to Pyongyang to negotiate the deal as the two countries deepen security ties amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

He said Russia is seeking more than two dozen types of weapons from North Korea as part of a series of deals.

“Any arms deal between North Korea and Russia would directly violate a number of UN Security Council resolutions,” Kirby said.

North Korea has denied earlier claims that it is supplying arms to Russia.

Mr Kirby said the Biden administration has taken note of Pyongyang’s recent comments on the issue and will continue to monitor the situation.

At the heart of the arms deals is Ashot Mkrtychev, a Slovak national who US officials said has worked with both countries to facilitate the arms transfers.

The Ministry of Finance on Friday sanctioned Mr. Mkrtychev for “attempting to import, export or re-export, directly or indirectly, arms or related materials” to or from the DPRK.

According to the Treasury Ministry, between late 2022 and early 2023, Mr. Mkrtychev worked with North Korean officials to obtain several weapons platforms for Russia in exchange for commercial aircraft, raw materials and goods.

The White House accused North Korea of ​​supplying Russia with artillery for its war in Ukraine. Officials said North Korea tried to disguise the ultimate destination of the arms shipments by making it appear they were going to countries in the Middle East or North Africa.

Officials say the arms swap reveals Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desperation to restock Russia’s dwindling arms as the war in Ukraine drags on.

The White House revealed last year that the Russian military is buying Iranian drones, which have since been used in Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

The government said Iran sent personnel to Russian-controlled Crimea to train Russian military personnel in flying the drones.

Iranian officials have denied allegations that they support the Russian invasion.

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