Russia has been expending so much firepower in its war on Ukraine that it is running low on ammo. Seeing that they cannot manufacture enough to keep up with their current needs, they are forced to turn elsewhere. As you might imagine, they have found some unsavory sources. The White House announced Wednesday that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is covertly supplying artillery shells and rockets through third parties to aid Moscow in its war against Ukraine.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder announced recently, “We do have indications that Russia has approached North Korea to request ammunition.” This move clearly shows how desperate the Russians are at this point. 152mm artillery shells and Katyusha-type rockets are the most basic of military munitions, in service since 1941. It’s likely that Pyongyang is clearing out old stockpiles, perhaps dating back to the Korean War, and sending them to its Russian allies. Chances are these munitions may no longer work or could malfunction in such a way as to hurt the Russians who attempt to use them more than their enemy.

Russian artillery fires against targets in Ukraine. Note the “Z” designator on the weapon represents the Eastern Military District. Screenshot from YouTube and The Sun.

Middle Eastern and African nations have been implicated as intermediaries in the transfer of the old North Korean Weapons. John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, in a statement to the press, said that he would call the number of weapons supplies “significant” but would not go as far as to say they could change the outcome of the war “in any appreciable way.”  

In his typical manner of supplying only part of the information (not a dig, often this is necessary for security purposes), Mr. Kirby would not disclose how Kim Jong-un is getting his artillery shells to the Russians. He did, however, state, “We do have a sense of where they are going” and that the US is continuing to assess our options.