National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday said arms negotiations between Moscow and Pyongyang have been “actively advancing” as Russia has sought to evade the US and western sanctions that have made it harder to prosecute the country’s ongoing war against Ukraine.
Mr Kirby added that Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu recently travelled to Pyongyang in an effort to convince North Korean officials to sell Russia domestically-manufactured artillery shells, since North Korea’s military equipment is largely Russian or Soviet-made.
“Since that visit President Putin and Kim Jong-un have exchanged letters, pledging to increase their bilateral cooperation,” Mr Kirby said, adding later that Mr Shoigu’s trip to North Korea was followed by a delegation of other Russian officials.
“Following these negotiations, high-level discussions may continue in the coming months,” he said.
Mr Kirby also explained that the deal would involve the transfer of “significant quantities and multiple types of munitions” from North Korea to Russia for use in Ukraine, as well as “the provision of raw materials that would assist Russia’s defence industrial base”.
“Any arms deal between the DPRK and Russia would directly violate a number of UN Security Council resolutions ... we urge the DPRK to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms production,” he said.