Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea, according to newly declassified US intelligence documents, a sign that global sanctions have severely restricted its supply chains and forced Moscow to turn to rogue states for military supplies.
The New York Times revelation comes days after Russia received initial shipments of Iranian-made drones, some of which US officials said had mechanical problems.
U.S. administration officials said Russia's decision to turn to Iran, and now North Korea, is a sign that sanctions and export controls imposed by the United States and Europe are hurting Moscow's ability to obtain supplies for her army.
The United States has provided few details from declassified information about the exact armament, timing or size of the shipment, and there is still no way to independently verify the sale. A US official said that, in addition to short-range missiles and artillery shells, Russia is expected to try to buy additional North Korean equipment in the future.
"The Kremlin should be concerned that it is obligated to buy anything from North Korea," said Mason Clark, who heads the Russia monitoring group at the Institute for the Study of War.
Broad economic sanctions, at least so far, have not crippled Russia. Energy prices, driven by the invasion, have filled its coffers and allowed Moscow to cushion the effects of cutting off its banks from international financing and curbing exports and imports. Sanctions against individual Russian oligarchs have also failed to undermine President Vladimir Putin's power.
But US officials said that when it came to Russia's ability to build up its military, the economic actions of Europe and the United States were effective. U.S. and European sanctions have blocked Russia's ability to buy weapons or procure electronics to build those weapons.
Moscow had hoped that China would be willing to bypass these export controls and continue supplying the Russian military. But in recent days, US officials have said that while China has been willing to buy Russian oil at a discount, Beijing has, at least so far, respected export controls aimed at Moscow's military and has not sought to sell either military equipment or parts. .
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has repeatedly warned China that if Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., China's largest computer chip maker, or other companies violate sanctions against Russia, the United States will effectively shut down those businesses, cutting off access the in American technology they need make semiconductors.
So, with most countries treading carefully in the face of American pressure, Russia has focused its deals on Iran and North Korea.
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