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South Korean media: North Korea might send military construction and engineering forces to occupied Donetsk in July

South Korean media reports North Korea could send military engineering forces to occupied Donetsk as early as July, potentially earning millions from Russia.
Russia & North korea
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un during the summit in Russia on 13 September 2023. Credit: North Korea’s Central News Agency
South Korean media: North Korea might send military construction and engineering forces to occupied Donetsk in July

South Korean TV channel reports that North Korea may deploy large-scale military engineering forces to the occupied Donetsk Oblast as early as July 2024. The channel cites a South Korean government official as its source.

TV Chosun reported, citing a South Korean government official, that these forces would assist in rebuilding infrastructure in occupied Donetsk. The channel estimates that “North Korea could receive up to $115 million annually from Russia if it sends three to four engineering brigades to occupied Ukraine.”

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on 26 June that this move could be part of Russia’s broader strategy.

“Russia appears to be seeking to build a coalition of friendly states with historically warm ties to the Soviet Union, including North Korea and Vietnam, to form the basis of an alternative world order,” the ISW reported

The ISW has not seen reports indicating North Korean troops intend to participate in combat operations in Ukraine. However, the analytics suggest that “direct North Korean engineering support could free up Russian combat power for operations along the front line and support Russian efforts to expand military infrastructure and defensive fortifications in occupied Ukraine.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg commented on the Russia-North Korea agreement, stating it “demonstrates the growing alignment between authoritarian states and underscores the importance of democracies standing united.”

The US administration views the Putin-Kim Jong Un meeting as evidence of Moscow’s efforts to build a coalition with North Korea, Iran, Syria, and, to some extent, China.

The agreement signed by Putin and Kim on 19 June commits each side to provide immediate military assistance to the other in case of armed aggression against one of them.

The Pentagon believes that North Korean troops in Ukraine would become “cannon fodder,” according to the report.

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