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Pentagon monitors potential North Korean troop involvement in Russia-Ukraine War

Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder cautions North Korea against becoming “cannon fodder” in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder.
Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder. Credit: AP
Pentagon monitors potential North Korean troop involvement in Russia-Ukraine War

The US Department of Defense is closely watching for any signs of North Korean troops joining Russian forces in Ukraine, Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said at a 25 June briefing.

“That’s something to keep an eye on. I think if I were North Korean military leadership, I would think twice about sending forces to become cannon fodder in an illegal war against Ukraine. And we’ve seen the casualties that Russian forces have taken… But again, we’ll be watching this,” Ryder said.

This statement comes after Moscow and Pyongyang signed a mutual defense agreement last week. Russian President Vladimir Putin also said on 20 June that he “does not rule out” supplying weapons to North Korea, a move the US State Department called “incredibly concerning.”

South Korea and Western countries claim North Korea began large-scale weapons and ammunition deliveries to Russia last year for use in the war against Ukraine, violating international sanctions that Russia had pledged to uphold. Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied these allegations.

The Washington Post reported on 22 June that Russia may have received about 1.6 million artillery shells from North Korea. Military analysts have also stated that Russian forces have fired North Korean missiles at Ukraine.

According to state media, on 24 June, a high-ranking North Korean military official criticized Washington for its military aid to Ukraine and confirmed Pyongyang’s support for Moscow in the war.

Pak Jong Chon, one of North Korea’s top military officials, said that Russia has “the right of choice for any counterstrike” if attacked and warned that Washington could provoke a “world war” if it continues to support Ukraine in the war against Russia.

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