| Welcome to Global Village Space

Sunday, May 19, 2024

North Korea sold arms to Russia’s Wagner group, US says

"Wagner is emerging as a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries," Kirby said.

North Korea has delivered arms to Russia’s private military group Wagner, the White House said Thursday, calling the mercenary enterprise a “rival” for power to the defense and other ministries in the Kremlin.

The United States will boost sanctions against Wagner following North Korea’s sale of infantry rockets and missiles to the group last month, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, said White House national security spokesman John Kirby.

“Wagner is searching around the world for arms suppliers to support its military operations in Ukraine,” Kirby told reporters.

“We can confirm that North Korea has completed an initial arms delivery to Wagner, which paid for that equipment,” he said.

According to Kirby the group, which is independent of the Russian defense establishment and is leading a bloody siege of Bakhmut, Ukraine, is spending more than $100 million each month in its Ukraine operations.

“Wagner is emerging as a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries,” Kirby said.

Read more: North Korea condemns Japan’s military buildup plans

– ‘Sign of desperation’ –

In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean foreign ministry denied conducting any arms transaction with Russia, saying the story was “cooked up by some dishonest forces for different purposes.”

However, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK concurs with the American assessment that North Korea delivered arms to Russia for the Wagner group in violation of UN resolutions.

“The fact that President (Vladimir) Putin is turning to North Korea for help is a sign of Russia’s desperation and isolation,” Cleverly said in a statement.

“We will work with our partners to ensure that North Korea pays a high price for supporting Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.”

Read more: North Korea successfully tests latest solid-fuel engine

– Close to Putin –

The Wagner group is controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman once called “Putin’s chef” for his work catering dinners for the powerful leader before and after he became the Russian president.

A vocal critic of the Russian defense establishment’s handling of the war in Ukraine, Prigozhin, 61, runs a number of diverse businesses out of his Concord Catering group in St. Petersburg.

One is the Internet Research Agency, the notorious St. Petersburg internet “troll farm” that conducted a massive online operation to interfere with the US elections to help then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016.

For that Prigozhin and several others in the operation were indicted in the United States in 2018.