WASHINGTON: The White House said on Thursday (Mar 30) that Russia is seeking more arms from North Korea for the Ukraine war, revealing the identity of a Slovakian man allegedly brokering deals between Moscow and Pyongyang.
“We have new information that Russia is actively seeking to acquire additional munitions from North Korea,” said White House national security spokesman John Kirby.
He said the man, identified as Ashot Mkrtychev, 56, of Bratislava, was working on arms-related sales and barter deals between the two countries between late 2022 and the early part of this year.
“With the support of Russian officials, Mkrtychev has been attempting to broker a secret arms agreement between Russia and North Korea,” he said.
Under discussion was for North Korea to ship “over two dozen” kinds of weapons and munitions to Russia, according to the US Treasury, which placed Mkrtychev on its sanctions blacklist.
In exchange, the Treasury said, Pyongyang would obtain cash, commercial aircraft, commodities and raw materials.
Kirby said Washington understands that Russia seeks to send a delegation to North Korea and is offering Pyongyang food in exchange for munitions.
He did not say if any deals had been completed, or detail the specific weapons involved.
“Any arms deal between North Korea and Russia would directly violate a series of UN Security Council resolutions,” Kirby added.
He said the deals Mkrtychev was involved in were separate from North Korea’s sale late last year of rockets and artillery munitions to the Wagner Group, a semi-independent Russian military force fighting on the front lines in Ukraine.