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US says Russia seeks munitions from NK in exchange for food

March 31, 2023 - 11:08 By Shin Ji-hye
The state flags of North Korea and Russia wave in the wind on a streetpost near a railway station during North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's visit to Vladivostok, Russia on April 25, 2019. (Reuters)

The US authorities announced on Thursday that Russia is pursuing a plan to secure additional ammunition in exchange for food to North Korea, targeting a Slovak national arms dealer with sanctions for allegedly facilitating the exchange of goods between Russia and North Korea.

In a briefing with reporters, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said, “We remain concerned that North Korea will provide further support and Russia’s military operations against Ukraine and we have new information that Russia is actively seeking to acquire additional munitions from North Korea.”

"We also understand that Russia is seeking to send a delegation in North Korea and that Russia is offering North Korea food in exchange for munitions," he said.

At the center of these efforts is an arms dealer named Ashot Mkrtichev, Kirby said, identifying Mkrtichev as a Slovak national who was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department for attempting to sell North Korean weapons to Russia.

Previously, the Treasury Department announced that Mkrtichev planned to sell 20 types of North Korean weapons and munitions to Russia from the end of last year to the beginning of this year in exchange for providing North Korea with various supplies, including commercial aircraft, raw materials and products.

Earlier, the US announced that North Korea had sold weapons and ammunition, including rockets and missiles for infantry, to the Wagner Group in December of last year. The US released satellite images in January after North Korea denied the allegations.