North Korea has accomplished its first arms shipment to Russia’s secretive mercenary Wagner Group, the White House mentioned Thursday, because the Kremlin scrambles to replenish its weapons shares for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby advised reporters that Pyongyang accomplished its shipment containing infantry rockets and missiles into Russia final month. He mentioned the shipment was paid for by the Wagner Group and shall be utilized by its mercenaries on the battlefield in Ukraine.
“We assess that the amount of material delivered to Wagner will not change battlefield dynamics in Ukraine, but we are certainly concerned that North Korea is planning to deliver more military equipment,” Mr. Kirby mentioned. “Just like the Russian government, Wagner has been forced to rely on pariah states to enable its campaign there in Ukraine.”
The arms sale by North Korea provides to the move of overseas arms flooding onto the battlefield in Ukraine. Russia has additionally amassed a cache of Iranian drones that it has utilized in its barrage of assaults towards Ukraine’s crucial infrastructure in latest weeks.
Mr. Kirby mentioned Russian President Vladimir Putin has additionally change into more and more reliant on the Wagner Group to struggle the struggle in Ukraine as Russian forces wrestle. The non-public army outfit was based in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and has since served as a deadly arm of the Kremlin in Syria and Africa.
The Treasury Department has labeled the Wagner Group as “a designated Russian Ministry of Defense proxy force,” to hold out acts of violence towards civilians in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan and Libya.
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The U.S. estimates that the Wagner Group’s proprietor, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is spending greater than $100 million monthly on operations in Ukraine.
In September, movies started to floor on-line exhibiting Mr. Prigozhin promising Russian convicts launch from jail in alternate for fight excursions in Ukraine.
Mr. Kirby assessed on Thursday that the group at the moment has 50,000 mercenaries deployed to Ukraine, 40,000 of whom are convicts.
“It’s pretty clear to us that Mr. Prigozhin has absolutely no regard for life whatsoever, certainly not Ukrainian lives, but I’d go so far as to say not Russian lives either,” he mentioned. “He’s literally throwing bodies into the meat grinder there.”
The Commerce Department on Wednesday expanded its present Entity List restrictions concentrating on the Wagner Group to additional limit the group’s capacity to amass weapons globally.
“In the coming weeks, as well, we are going to announce further sanctions actions against Wagner and its support networks in countries around the world,” Mr. Kirby mentioned Thursday.
Mr. Kirby provided Thursday’s evaluation on the heels of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s go to to Washington the place he met with President Biden on the White House and addressed a joint session of Congress.
Mr. Biden introduced throughout the go to an almost $2 billion army assist bundle, which included the long-sought Patriot surface-to-air missile programs meant to bolster Ukraine’s protection towards Russia’s unrelenting onslaught of assaults from the air.
“President Biden has been very clear: we will continue to stand with Ukraine, for as long as it takes, in support of its sovereignty and independence,” Mr. Kirby mentioned.