Russia has been rightfully boycotted by the majority of the international community following its unjust “special military operation” in Ukraine. The rogue regime has had to lean on like-minded nations in order to sustain its war efforts in Kyiv. Since February 2022, Moscow has lost scores of military equipment and weapons systems on the battlefield and continues to face significant stockpile shortages. From main battle tanks (MBTs) to airframes, Moscow has turned to its storage-ridden piles of antiquated weapons in order to aid its advances in Ukraine.
Perhaps the most recognizable Russian partnership is with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Last summer, the White House revealed that Russian delegations had visited Tehran’s Kashan airfield to inspect lethal unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). For months, Iran denied providing Moscow with its combat drones but ultimately admitted this transaction this Fall. As Moscow’s missile arsenal began to diminish, it was able to rely on Iranian-delivered UAVs to consistently barrage critical infrastructure and military assets in Kyiv.
Russian military aircraft spotted in North Korea
An usual sighting of a Russian airframe in Pyongyang this week indicates that the Kremlin may be developing another ally. According to tracking datafrom FlightRadar24, a Russian Air Force Ilyushin IL-62M flew from Moscow to Pyongyang late last month and returned in early August. The last time this specific type of aircraft was seen in North Korea was in 2019, when Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin visited the Hermit Kingdom. The presence of this Russian jet in North Korea indicates that the Kremlin could procure weapons from the Kim Jon Un regime. Both Pyongyang and Moscow are heavily sanctioned and share a vehement anti-American sentiment. A partnership between the two rogue allies could be mutually beneficial.
In response to the sighting of the Russian plane, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that “We have made clear our concerns about cooperation between Russia and North Korea, we have made clear our concerns about North Korea seeking to assist Russia in its aggression in Ukraine,” adding that “We will continue to make those concerns clear and we will continue to enforce all of our sanctions.”
Which weapons would Moscow procure from Pyongyang?
North Korean drones were also displayed at the Victory Day Parade, a weapon certainly needed by Russian forces as Kyiv’s counteroffensive rages on.
Moscow is also in desperate need of functioning main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, which Pyongyang could provide spare parts for.
There has also been much speculation that North Korea might have sold munitions to the Wagner Group, as the DPRK has stockpiles of older artillery and mortar round Russia could use to fight Ukraine.
Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.
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