Russia is in the process of buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea to use in Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official said, an indication that Western sanctions are severely hampering Moscow's military supply effort.
Russia is seeking help from Kim Jong Un's regime at a time when it is also leaning on Iran for military supplies. U.S. officials disclosed late last month that Russia received shipments of Iranian-produced drones.
Russian cargo planes loaded up Mohajer-6 and Shahed-series unmanned aerial vehicles over several days last month at an Iranian airfield and then ferried the drones to Russia, three U.S. officials told NBC News. The delivery is part of Russia’s plans to import “hundreds” of drones from Iran, they said.
But the drones transferred to Russia have already experienced “numerous failures,” the U.S. officials said. They did not offer more details about the nature of the technical problems.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered a wave of economic sanctions from Washington and its European allies, placing Moscow in a position similar to Iran, which for years has been shut out of Western economies and the international financial system.
Since the war began, Iran has become the top purchaser of Russia’s grain, and the two countries have announced agreements to bolster trade, including a $40 billion deal to enlist Russian help to develop Iran’s gas fields.
With the war in Ukraine dragging on and Russia expending thousands of rounds of ammunition every week, it will likely seek to purchase additional military equipment from North Korea, defense officials said. The New York Times was the first to report the purchase.