North Korea is supplying munitions to Russia “at scale” via a so-called “Orient Express”, a new report has warned.
James Byrne, director of RUSI’s Open Source Intelligence Analysis group which undertook the analysis, warned the decision by Kim Jong-un’s regime will have “profound consequences”.
RUSI’s investigation is published just days after US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby accused Pyongyang of supplying up to 1,000 containers of “equipment and munitions” to Moscow in “recent weeks”.
The RUSI report, published yesterday, says in recent months, two In recent months, two Russian ships – the Angara and Maria – had multiple trips between the Russian port of Dunai and the North Korean port of Rajin.
Both vessels are owned and operated by companies with links to Russia’s military logistics networks.
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The final destination of the shipments appeared to be a munitions depot in the Russian town of Tikhoretsk, roughly 200 kilometres from the Ukrainian border.
From here, North Korean weapons and munitions can be shipped to logistics depots on the border of Ukraine for distribution to front line units, the report explained.
It added: “The supply will bolster Russia’s war effort, posing problems for Ukraine and its allies who may need to further increase their support to keep pace with this new reality.
“It also creates a new source of revenue for Pyongyang, which has traditionally used the proceeds of arms sales to develop its own nuclear and ballistic missile programme in violation of UN sanctions.”
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Additionally, the arrangement could see the Hermit State seeking other assistance from Russia in return for its support, including the provision of missile and other advanced military technologies, the report warned.
In turn, any strengthenin gof ties between North Korea and Russia is guaranteed to alarm South Korea and Japan.
Ultimately, North Korea’s decision to send munitions to Russia “underscores the grave threat that North Korea poses to international security, this time feeding a conflagration on European soil that has already cost the lives of tens of thousands of Ukrainians”, said the report.
Mr Byrne commented: “For decades, North Korea has funnelled weapons into all types of wars and conflicts across the globe.
“But the decision to supply Russia with munitions at this scale will likely have profound consequences, not just for the people of Ukraine, but for the wider security architecture in East Asia and at the UN Security Council.”
Speaking last week, Mr Kirby told reporters: “We condemn North Korea for providing Russia with this military equipment, which will be used to attack Ukrainian cities, kill Ukrainian civilians and further Russia’s illegitimate war.”
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