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Possible weapons trade between Russia, N. Korea shows difficulties facing Moscow: Pentagon

By Yonhap

Published : Aug. 2, 2023 - 09:00

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Department of Defense Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder is seen answering questions during a daily press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on Tuesday. (Yonhap) Department of Defense Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder is seen answering questions during a daily press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The potential weapons trade between North Korea and Russia demonstrates the dire situation Russia finds itself in amid its ongoing war against Ukraine, a Pentagon spokesperson said Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder made the remark after a news report suggested that North Korea may be sending weapons to Russia.

"Russia maintains a relationship with North Korea," the Department of Defense spokesperson told a daily press briefing when asked about possible weapons trade between the two countries.

The Financial Times earlier reported that Ukrainian troops were using North Korea rockets seized from a ship, indicating possible weapons trade between Pyongyang and Moscow.

"Certainly, we have seen in the past Russia looking to try to obtain munitions from countries like North Korea," Ryder added. "I don't have any updates to provide beyond what we said previously on this topic. But again, it highlights the dire straits that Russia finds itself in when it comes to resupplying and refreshing its munitions capabilities."

The US earlier accused North Korea of providing ammunition to a Russian paramilitary group, Wagner, for use in Ukraine, while stressing that multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibit any arms trade with North Korea.

The Pentagon press secretary said he had no new updates to provide when asked about Pvt. Travis King, an active US service member stationed in South Korea who crossed the inter-Korean border into North Korea last month.

Still, he said he can "confirm that the DPRK has responded to United Nations Command," referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

When asked to elaborate on North Korea's response, the Pentagon spokesperson said he was referring to the country's initial "acknowledgement" of receiving UNC's inquiry about Private King.

"What I will tell you is, as you heard us say previously, United Nations Command did communicate or provide some communication via well established communication channels," he told the press briefing.

"But I don't have any substantial progress to read out," he added.

On the upcoming trilateral summit between US President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the Pentagon spokesperson said the US will continue to work closely with its two "staunchest allies" for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

"The relationship between the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea is very, very strong," he said, referring to South Korea by its official name.

"We are going to continue to work closely with those two countries to do everything we can do to help facilitate communication as it pertains to our mutual efforts to ensure regional peace and stability," added Ryder.

The trilateral summit is set to be held at Camp David on Aug. 18, the White House said earlier. (Yonhap)