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NK Pro: Satellite images show halt in North Korean weapons loads to Russia

The halt in North Korea weapons shipments to Russia, seen since 12 Feb., could be due to production or logistical issues. However, transportation possible though air/rail, according to the North Korea-focused outlet NK Pro.
The Lady R cargo vessel
The Lady R cargo vessel at Simons Town Naval Base in South Africa on 9 Dec. 2022. Credit: NK Pro
NK Pro: Satellite images show halt in North Korean weapons loads to Russia

Shipments of North Korean ammunition and weaponry to Russia appear to have been put on hold since 12 February, North Korea-focused outlet NK Pro reported on 29 February.

The report, citing satellite imagery analysis, said that “Russian ships involved in the maritime transport of North Korean ammunition and weaponry to Russia have not docked at North Korea’s Rajin Port since 12 February.”

Russia uses North Korea’s weapons to wage the war in Ukraine, facing a shortage of domestically produced ammunition and restricted access to global markets.

According to NK Pro, Russian cargo ships have made at least 32 round trips transporting shipping containers between Rajin and the Russian ports of Dunay and Vostochny since August 2023.

The Russian Lady R cargo ship transported an unspecified number of containers, likely containing North Korean ammunition and weapons, between North Korea and Russia from 30 January to 8 February. The Maia-1 cargo ship, which arrived at Russia’s Vostochny Port from North Korea on 12 February, is believed to be the last weapons shipment so far this year.

Since then, “satellite imagery has not captured another large cargo ship traveling between the two piers or new deliveries to the Rajin Port,” NK Pro said. The pause could be due to “production issues in North Korea or other logistical issues,” according to NK Pro.

North Korea may still be sending arms to Russia “via air or rail,” the outlet reported.

ISW reported that Russia uses the Baikal-Amur Railway and the East Siberian Railway to facilitate cargo transfers from and to China and North Korea. Russia is increasingly relying on both countries for economic and military support to sustain its war effort in Ukraine.

South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik said on 26 February that North Korea had sent an estimated 6,700 shipping containers of ammunition to Russia in recent months. Shin said these containers could carry over three million 152mm of artillery shells or roughly 500,000 122mm of shells.

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