WASHINGTON — The United States on Wednesday accused North Korea of covertly shipping a “significant number” of artillery shells to Russia to aid its war effort in Ukraine, a sign that Moscow is increasingly turning to pariah states for military supplies as the grinding conflict persists.
The White House’s national security spokesman, John Kirby, said that it was unclear if the artillery munitions, which are being transferred through the Middle East and North Africa, had reached Russia. The United States does not believe that the additional weapons will alter the trajectory of the war.
“Our indications are the DPRK is covertly supplying and we’re going to monitor to see whether shipments are received,” Mr. Kirby told reporters on Wednesday, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Our information indicates that they’re trying to obscure the method of supply by funneling them through other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.”
The Biden administration said in September that Russia was seeking to purchase artillery shells and rockets from North Korea. The United States is also concerned that Iran may be shipping drones and surface-to-surface missiles.
Mr. Kirby said that Russia has now gone beyond shopping for such artillery and had made purchases. He would not elaborate on how the weapons were being transported or whether the United States intends to try to intercept them.
The United States believes that Ukraine will continue to have the ability to defend itself if the North Korean munitions do reach Russia.
“We don’t we don’t believe that this will change the course of the war,” Mr. Kirby said.