North Korean weaponry is pouring into Russia, a report from the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) indicated on October 17.
The report’s conclusions are based on high-quality satellite imagery of ports and train shipments.
If its assessment is correct, it would appear that Vladimir Putin’s ingratiating hosting of totalitarian North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on a six-day visit to Russia in mid-September, complete with a 40-second handshake, has done the trick—worrying amounts of North Korean arms are already in the possession of Russia, and Ukraine has a problem.
Dozens of satellite images taken in recent months appear to show two Russian-flagged cargo ships moving between Rajin, a port on North Korea’s eastern coast and a little-known port in Far Eastern Russia’s Primorsky Krai known as Dunai, the RUSI report revealed.
And, according to the RUSI analysis, the ships transported “hundreds of containers” that, it said, likely contained North Korean armaments.
The RUSI report also cited images showing dozens of shipping containers of the same colour and size arriving weeks later in Tikhoretsk, in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region, bordering the Black Sea. An ammunition depot at Tikhoretsk has been expanded noticeably since August, the imagery is said to show.
“North Korea’s supplying of significant quantities of munitions to Moscow will have profound consequences for the war in Ukraine,” the RUSI report’s authors wrote.
“For the Russians, a major North Korean supply line will alleviate shortages of munitions,” they added. “Ukraine and its supporters will also have to contend with this new reality, potentially escalating their support by providing additional quantities of weapons and munitions to Ukraine's defenders.”
Russia has denied receiving weapons from North Korea but in September White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said US intelligence had been monitoring the potential supply of armaments from North Korea to Russia for some time.
Sullivan said Moscow had made an intense effort to secure this kind of weapons support from North Korea because “we have continued to squeeze… Russia’s defence industrial base, and they are now going about looking to whatever source they can find for things like artillery ammunition.”
In a report released earlier this month, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies documented evidence indicating much increased rail traffic between North Korea and Russia that “likely indicates North Korea’s supply of arms and munitions to Russia”.