It’s been 18 months since Russian President Vladimir Putin began what he called Russia’s “special military operation” against Ukraine, and what civilized countries accurately call Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion.
If Putin believed the “operation” would be swift and painless for Russia, events have proven otherwise. As U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told Congress, “Moscow underestimated the strength of Ukraine’s resistance and the degree of internal military challenges.”
Of course, it is Ukraine that has suffered most from Russia’s aggression, with devastating effects on Ukraine’s civilian population, infrastructure, and economy. But the costs to Russia have also been high: estimates are that tens of thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed; hundreds of thousands of Russians have left Russia; military spending is spiraling; and there are shortages of munitions, including tanks, drones, and artillery pieces.
Russia’s munitions’ shortage is in large part due to Western sanctions that have forced the Kremlin to seek help from countries with no regard for the devastation occurring in Ukraine or for international peace and stability.
Iran is one of them. Russia has received hundreds of drones from Tehran which it uses to destroy Ukrainian infrastructure and kill civilians; and now Russia is receiving materials from Iran to build a UAV manufacturing plant inside Russia itself.
The DPRK is another country that has no qualms in helping Russia’s attempts to destroy Ukraine. In 2022, the DPRK delivered infantry rockets and missiles into Russia for use in Ukraine by the Russia-backed Wagner group.
At the end of July, Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu reportedly met in the DPRK with government officials about increasing the sale of North Korean munitions to Moscow for the Ukraine war.
“This is another example of how desperate Mr. Putin has become because his war machine is being affected by the sanctions and the export controls,” said U.S. National Security Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby. “He is going through a vast amount of inventory to try to subjugate Ukraine, and he’s reaching out to countries like North Korea, like Iran, and certainly he’s been trying to reach to China to get support for his war machine.”
U.S. officials have voiced deep concern over the possibility that the DPRK will further aid Russia’s brutality and have promised to expose all unlawful arms transfers and enforce all U.S. sanctions. As Coordinator Kirby declared, “Nobody should be helping Mr. Putin kill more Ukrainians.”