Artillery vehicle

Russia buys North Korean rockets and artillery for use in Ukraine

South Korean military K-55 self-propelled howitzers during a drill near the demilitarized zone in Paju, South Korea, November 29, 2017. Russia is in the process of buying millions of rockets and shells from North Korea’s artillery for use in Ukraine, a US executive said a defense official, indicating that Western sanctions are seriously hampering Moscow’s military procurement effort.

Seung Il Ryu | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Russia is buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use in Ukraine, a senior US defense official has said, indicating that Western sanctions are seriously hampering the Moscow’s military supply effort.

Russia is seeking help from the Kim Jong Un regime at a time when it is also relying on Iran for military supplies. US officials revealed late last month that Russia had received shipments of Iranian-made drones.

Russian cargo planes loaded Mohajer-6 and Shahed series unmanned aerial vehicles for several days last month at an Iranian airfield and then transported the drones to Russia, three US officials told NBC News. The delivery is part of Russia’s plans to import “hundreds” of drones from Iran, they said.

But the drones transferred to Russia have already had “many failures”, US officials said. They did not give further details on the nature of the technical problems.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered a wave of economic sanctions from Washington and its European allies, putting Moscow in a position similar to that of Iran, which for years has been excluded from Western economies and of the international financial system.

Since the start of the war, Iran has become the largest buyer of Russian grain, and the two countries have announced agreements to boost trade, including a $40 billion deal to secure Russian aid to develop Iranian gas fields.

With the war in Ukraine dragging on and Russia spending thousands on rounds every week, it will likely seek to buy additional military hardware from North Korea, defense officials said. The New York Times was the first to report the purchase.