Russian ship Wagner received weapons from North Korea: US
HO CHI MINH CITY –
The White House said on Thursday that the Wagner Corporation, a private Russian military company, has received a shipment of weapons from North Korea to help bolster its forces as it fights alongside the North Koreans. Russian team in Ukraine.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said US intelligence officials determined that North Korea completed an initial shipment of weapons including missiles and rockets last month.
“We assess that the amount of material delivered to Wagner will not change the battlefield dynamics in Ukraine,” Kirby said. “But we are certainly concerned that North Korea is planning to supply more military equipment.”
The White House has expressed alarm at Wagner’s growing involvement in the war as the organization is particularly active in the eastern Donbas region. In some cases, Russian military officials even “obey Wagner’s orders,” Kirby said.
Biden administration officials said that by selling weapons to a private military consortium, North Korea is violating United Nations sanctions that ban Pyongyang from importing or exporting weapons.
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy to the United Nations, called the fact that Russia, a permanent member with a veto power of the UN Security Council, which has imposed sanctions, is now using Weapons purchased from North Korea and Iran are “despicable”. to pursue a war of aggression against Ukraine.”
Kirby said the United States now assesses that Wagner has about 50,000 combat personnel in Ukraine, including 10,000 contractors and 40,000 prisoners that the company has recruited from prisons.
Kirby said the US assesses that Wagner, owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is spending about US$100 million a month on the war.
Wagner Group mercenaries have also been accused by Western countries and UN experts of numerous human rights abuses across Africa, including in the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced he had designated the Wagner Group as an “entity of particular concern” because of its activities in the Central African Republic.
Wagner has faced U.S. sanctions since 2017. The Commerce Department on Wednesday announced new export restrictions aimed at Wagner aimed at further restricting access to technology and supplies. their level.
The White House has repeatedly sought to highlight intelligence findings that show Russia – struggling to maintain a steady supply of weapons to the war in Ukraine and squeezed by sanctions that limit its power Access to key ingredients for weapons production – there are few options to help the country. supply weapons.
Russia has also asked Iran for drones for use against Ukraine, and the Biden administration has expressed concern that Russia may seek to buy more advanced conventional weapons from Iran. The White House had previously said that Moscow turned to North Korea to buy artillery.
The British government also condemned Russia for buying weapons from Wagner.
“President Putin’s turn to North Korea for help is a sign of Russia’s desperation and isolation,” Secretary of State James Cleverly said in a statement. “We will work with our partners to ensure that North Korea pays dearly for supporting Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.”
North Korea has sought to strengthen ties with Russia as much of Europe and the West has withdrawn from Moscow.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have increased due to concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. North Korea has conducted a series of weapons demonstrations, while the United States and South Korea have stepped up joint defense exercises.
Thomas-Greenfield said the Wagner purchase “contributes to instability on the Korean Peninsula by providing North Korea with funds that it can use to further develop its ballistic missile programs.” religion and weapons of mass destruction are prohibited”.
“Russia is not only defending North Korea when it engages in threatening and illegal behavior, Russia is now a partner in that behavior,” Thomas-Greenfield added.