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The Economist: While North Korea provides Russia with shells and rockets, South Korea supplies Ukraine’s allies

North Korea has been selling weapons to Russia for about a year, according to the Economist.
Putin and Kim. Photo
Putin and Kim. Photo
The Economist: While North Korea provides Russia with shells and rockets, South Korea supplies Ukraine’s allies

North Korea has been supplying Russia with 152-mm shells and missiles for multiple rocket launchers for about a year, the Economist reported, referring to US intelligence sources.

Russia has few options and is buying weapons from North Korea and Iran because North Korean and Iranian authoritarian regimes are already heavily targeted by international sanctions. Both North Korea and Iran “have nothing to lose” and much to gain by doing business with Russia, according to the Economist. The collaboration of Russia with North Korea and Iran is not a new “axis of evil” but rather a market of pariahs, according to the Economist.

Unlike Iran, North Korea could provide Russia with a wide range of weaponry. Apart from drones and missiles such as the KN-23, which is almost a replica of the Russian Iskander ballistic missile, North Korea could offer Russia self-propelled howitzers and multi-launch rocket systems.

While North Korea is selling weapons to Russia to capitalize on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the South Korean arms industry is also being boosted by the war in Ukraine, according to the Economist. In the five years before 2022, when the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine began, South Korea rose to ninth place in the ranking of weapons sellers, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Image: The Economist

The war in Ukraine helped South Korea further ramp up its arms production. Last year, South Korea sold arms worth $17 billion, more than twice as much as in 2021, according to the Economist. Around $14,5 billion came from sales to Poland, one of Ukraine’s largest arms suppliers.

Today, South Korea is “the undisputed leader among emerging arms exporters,” the Economist noted. South Korean success in the arms business is due to its competitive prices, high-quality weapons, and prompt deliveries, according to Tom Waldwyn (the International Institute for Strategic Studies).


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