WASHINGTON – Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and missiles from North Korea, according to newly declassified US intelligence, a sign that global sanctions have severely limited the country’s supply chain and forced Moscow must turn to pariah countries for military supplies.
The reveal came a few days later Russia receives initial shipments of Iranian-made drones, some US officials said there was a problem with the machine. US government officials say Russia’s decision to turn to Iran, and now North Korea, is a sign that sanctions and export controls imposed by the US and Europe are hurting Moscow’s ability to source supplies for its army.
The United States has provided some details from declassified intelligence about the exact weapon type, timing or size of the shipment, and there is currently no way to independently verify the purchase. In addition to short-range missiles and artillery shells, Russia is expected to try to buy more North Korean equipment in the future, a US official said.
“The Kremlin should be wary that it has to buy anything from North Korea,” said Mason Clark, who leads the Russia team at the Institute for the Study of War.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine, White House begins declassifying intelligence reports about Moscow’s military plans – then reveal that document, first to allies privately and then publicly. After a lull in revelations, the US government has once again begun declassifying information to highlight the struggles of the Russian military, including recent intelligence on machine purchases. Iranian and Russian military drones. recruitment problem.
Widespread economic sanctions, at least for now, have not crippled Russia. Energy prices, boosted by the invasion, have filled the country’s coffers and helped Moscow alleviate its banks’ cuts from international finance and restrictions on exports and imports. Sanctions against Russian oligarchs have not diminished the power of President Vladimir V. Putin.
But US officials say that when Russia has the ability to rebuild its military, the economic actions of Europe and the US have been effective. US and European sanctions have prevented Russia’s ability to buy weapons or electronics to make them.
Moscow had hoped that China would be willing to bypass those export controls and continue supplying the Russian military. But in recent days, US officials have said that while China is willing to buy Russian oil at a discount, Beijing has, at least for now, respected export controls aimed at Moscow’s military and does not attempt to sell military equipment or components.
Gina Raimondo, commercial secretary, has repeatedly warned China that if Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China’s largest computer chip maker, or other companies violated sanctions against Russia, the United States would effectively close those businesses, cutting off access with the American technology they needed to make semiconductors.
With most countries wary of facing US pressure, Russia has focused on making deals with Iran and North Korea.
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Both Iran and North Korea have largely been cut off from international trade due to US and international sanctions, meaning neither country has much to lose by cutting off its dealings with Russia. Any agreement to buy weapons from North Korea would be a violation of United Nations resolutions to limit the proliferation of weapons from Pyongyang.
However, it remains unclear how purchasing from North Korea is related to export controls. Frederick W. Kagan, a military expert at the American Enterprise Institute, said there is nothing high-tech in the 152 mm shells or Katyusha-style missiles that North Korea produces.
A US official said the new deal with North Korea showed desperation in Moscow. And Kagan says turning its back on North Korea is a sign that Russia can’t seem to produce the simplest thing needed to wage war.
“The only reason the Kremlin has to buy artillery shells or missiles from North Korea or anyone else is because Putin doesn’t want or can’t mobilize the Russian economy for war on the most basic level,” Kagan said.
Restricting Russia’s military supply chain is a central part of the US strategy to weaken Moscow, with the aim of thwarting the war effort in Ukraine and its ability to threaten its neighbors in the future.
It has been clear for months, both from Russia’s activities in Ukraine and the revelations of the US government, that Moscow has been struggling with its high-tech weapons. Precision-guided weapons, such as cruise missiles, already have high failure rates. In the early stages of the war, half or more of those weapons failed to fire or hit their targets.
That Russian stockpile of precision weapons has also been depleted, forcing generals to rely less on missiles and instead build their strategy around a brutal artillery attack that wastes towns in eastern Ukraine.
The revelation that Russia is looking for more artillery shells is a sign that Moscow’s supply problems may go deeper than just high-end components for state-of-the-art tanks or precision missiles. If Russia is looking for more artillery shells from North Korea, it is facing a shortage or could see one in the future, and its industrial base is struggling to meet the demands. military requirements of the war.
“This is most likely a sign of a major failure of the Russian military-industrial complex that has deep roots and has a very serious impact on the Russian armed forces,” Kagan said.
In recent weeks, Ukraine has stepped up its offensive Russia’s Ammunition. Ukrainian forces used the American High Mobility Artillery Missile System, or HIMARS, and American intelligence reports, to strike behind the front lines and destroy ammunition depots.
While it is unclear what effect the attack would have on ammunition stocks as a whole, Russia was forced to retreat and move its ammunition storage points, reducing the effectiveness of its artillery force.
There are also indications that the effectiveness of some Russian shells has been reduced due to storage problems or poor ammunition maintenance. To be most effective at wounding enemy troops, shells explode in the air, just before they hit the ground. But the crater model created by Russian artillery during the summer shows many of their shells exploding on the ground, reduce damage to Ukrainian trenches.
While the status of North Korea’s artillery shells is unclear, the country has plenty of ammunition stockpiles.