South Korea Reveals North Korean Factories Producing Arms for Russia at Full Throttle

South Korea’s Defense Minister, Shin Won-sik, revealed today that North Korea’s munitions factories are reportedly “operating at full capacity,” supplying weapons and artillery shells to Russia amid the prolonged conflict in Ukraine. This information sheds light on the secretive role North Korea is playing in replenishing Moscow’s military resources as Ukraine faces delays in vital military supplies.

The weapons and military equipment, including millions of rounds of artillery shells, are exchanged for shipments of food and other necessities from Russia, according to Minister Shin’s statement on Monday. Since August, Pyongyang has sent approximately 6,700 containers to Russia, equivalent to over 3 million rounds of 152 mm artillery shells or more than 500,000 rounds of 122 mm multiple rocket launchers.

Minister Shin identified the difference in productivity between North Korea’s arms factories, currently running at 30% capacity due to shortages, and those manufacturing weapons for Russia, which are operating at full capacity. According to the US State Department, North Korea has sent more than 10,000 containers of munitions or related materials to Russia since September.

CNN has sought a response from South Korea’s defense ministry regarding the US estimate, but no response has been received at the time of reporting.

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North Korea’s Strategic Role in Russia’s War

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South Korea’s Defense Minister, Shin Won-sik, revealed today that North Korea’s munitions factories are reportedly “operating at full capacity,” supplying weapons and artillery shells to Russia amid the prolonged conflict in Ukraine.

These deliveries come at a crucial juncture in Russia’s war against Ukraine, with Moscow’s forces intensifying offensives along the nearly 1,000-kilometer front lines in an attempt to break the perceived stalemate. Russia’s need for fresh supplies of ammunition and shells is essential for sustaining its attritional war effort, as both sides continue to exchange heavy fire daily, depleting ammunition supplies.

Kyiv, facing multiple challenges including manpower constraints and dwindling Western ammunition supplies, recently lost ground in Avdiivka due to a lack of ammunition, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials. Zelensky warned that without the approved $60 billion aid request from US lawmakers, millions in Ukraine could face dire consequences.

The concern over North Korean weapons to Russia has been mounting since the summit between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin in September, indicating a closer relationship between the two nations amidst international isolation. Reports suggest that North Korea has likely provided Russia with “millions of artillery rounds” in the past year.

US officials, alarmed by the growing ties between North Korea and Russia, have warned of consequences if North Korea continues to provide weapons for Moscow’s use against Ukraine. Additionally, there is growing unease about the technology exchange, with North Korea seeking advancements in satellite and nuclear-powered submarine capabilities from Russia in return for weaponry.

As the conflict in Ukraine persists, the strategic partnership between North Korea and Russia raises long-term implications, with intelligence officials closely monitoring the evolving dynamics between these two nations.

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