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US accuses North Korea of ​​trying to hide weapons supplies to Russia



According to recently released information, the United States accuses North Korea of ​​secretly supplying artillery materials to Russia for the war with Ukraine, hiding the place of their transportation.

U.S. officials believe North Korea’s clandestine shipments, along with drones and other weapons Russia has acquired from Iran, are further evidence that even Moscow’s conventional artillery arsenals have dwindled in eight months of fighting. US intelligence claims that North Korea is trying to hide the shipments, implying that the munitions are sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa.

This latest information comes about two months after US intelligence said Russia was buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use on the battlefield, as reported by CNN and other media at the time.

“In September, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) publicly denied that it intended to supply munitions to Russia,” National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said in a statement to CNN. “However, our information indicates that the DPRK is secretly supplying a significant number of artillery pieces for the Russian war in Ukraine, while the true destination of the arms shipments is kept silent, giving the impression that they are destined for the countries of the Middle East or North Africa. “.

The authorities did not provide evidence to support the new allegations. The information released also did not include details on the number of weapons in the shipments or how they would be paid for.

“We will continue to monitor the situation to see if these supplies are coming in,” Kirby said, noting that Russia continues to turn to players such as North Korea and Iran to continue its war of aggression in Ukraine “amid supply shortages and restrictions.” effectiveness of international sanctions”.

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Efforts are ongoing to resupply Russian artillery.

However, US government officials have publicly cited the alleged agreement as evidence that Russia is running out of weapons to continue the war.

Just two weeks ago, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haynes said that “export controls are forcing Russia to turn to countries like Iran and North Korea for supplies, including UAVs, artillery and missiles.”

Kirby said on Wednesday that support from Iran and North Korea “will not change the course of the war” as the US remains committed to providing ongoing security assistance to Ukraine.

But now the supplies could help Russia support an important part of its war effort: harrowing artillery battles on the front lines.

“This could be a significant development because one of the challenges for Russia was keeping artillery in action,” explained Michael Kofman, director of the Russian Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analysis, stressing that he knows nothing about basic intelligence. The Russian army has probably used up millions of rounds of ammunition by now.”

Russia “made up for a labor shortage with much higher fire production,” Kofman said, a strategy he said was “probably too costly to supply ammunition” and left Russia behind. artillery of Soviet caliber compatible with their systems to endure the war.

In the weeks before this new information became known, some military and intelligence officials began to believe that North Korea was abandoning its arms deal with Russia, several US government sources told CNN.

Some organizations have begun to believe in the victory of the Biden administration’s strategy of selectively disclosing and divulging some sensitive information about Russia’s continuation of the war, believing that when the United States made the agreement public, it drew unwanted attention to a deal that Pyongyang did not make. I want publicity.

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But now US officials say that while North Korea denies it, they believe the disloyal regime has moved forward with Moscow’s backing as the war appears to be in its second year.

US officials have publicly said that Russia was forced to turn to North Korea and Iran for arms because it burned its stockpiles in a conflict that lasted many more months than anticipated, and because American and Western exports made the task more difficult. so that Russia can acquire the technological components it needs to rebuild its stocks on its own.

US officials said they would work to identify and counter shipments to Russia from Iran and North Korea, as well as networks that allow such shipments, but did not specify how they intend to do so.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that the US military has “intercepted” arms shipments in the past, but did not provide further information on whether arms bans to Russia are being considered this year.

“They are hungry for ammunition, wherever it comes from”

Recent reports that Russia is acquiring artillery munitions from North Korea suggest that the shortage is more serious than just better munitions and precision-guided munitions, which US and Western officials have already realized are a bottleneck in the Russian arsenal. This also applies to basic artillery.

“The Russians, by many estimates, are really running low on some of the elements they need to continue the war against Ukraine,” Price said Tuesday, pointing to export controls and sanctions that have deprived Russia of the funds to produce certain products. weapon.

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The actual state of Russia’s stockpile of conventional ammunition is not publicly known, but Russia “burns tens of thousands of munitions a day,” said Adam Mount, director of the Defense System Project at the Federation of American Scientists, an expert on North Korea. . “They’re hungry for ammunition, wherever it comes from.”

During the summer, Russia managed to advance in parts of Ukraine through a punitive artillery campaign. But since then, Western-supplied artillery has fueled a successful counteroffensive by Ukraine, which has reclaimed large swaths of territory previously held by Russia.

North Korea is likely to be able to supply Russia with 122mm or 152mm artillery shells, as well as tube or multiple rocket launchers compatible with Russian systems, said Bruce Klingner, a former Korean CIA analyst who now works for Heritage. Foundation.

But it is not yet clear what impact North Korean artillery shells will have on Russia on the battlefield.

In 2010, North Korea fired 170 122mm rounds at the South Korean island of Yongpyeong. Less than half hit the island, and of those that did, about a quarter did not explode – a high failure rate that “suggests that some DPRK-made artillery ammunition, especially round ones (several rocket launchers), suffer from poor quality during production, or that storage conditions and standards are poor,” says a 2016 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The last time they used these systems, it turned out they were pretty inaccurate,” Mount said. “One would expect these Soviet-era systems to age and therefore begin to break down.”

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.



Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia



A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization



“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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