White House: Russia’s Wagner received arms from North Korea

Dec 21, 2022, 7:35 PM | Updated: Dec 23, 2022, 11:58 am
FILE - Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin is shown prior to a meeting of Russian President Vladi...

FILE - Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin is shown prior to a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, July 4, 2017. The White House said Thursday that the Wagner Group, a private Russian military company, has taken delivery of an arms shipment from North Korea to help bolster its forces as it fights side-by-side with Russian forces in Ukraine. The U.S. assesses that Wagner, owned by Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, is spending about $100 million a month in the fight. (Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool Photo via AP, File)

(Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool Photo via AP, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House said Thursday that the Wagner Group, a private Russian military company, has taken delivery of an arms shipment from North Korea to help bolster its forces as it fights side-by-side with Russian troops in Ukraine.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said U.S. intelligence officials determined that North Korea completed an initial arms shipment that included rockets and missiles last month.

“We assess that the amount of material delivered to Wagner will not change battlefield dynamics in Ukraine,” Kirby said. “But we’re certainly concerned that North Korea is planning to deliver more military equipment.”

On Friday, North Korea again flatly denied it has shipped munitions to Russia, calling the U.S. accusation of arms transfers to Russia “the groundless theory” cooked up by “some dishonest forces.”

The White House has expressed alarm about Wagner’s growing involvement in the war as it has been particularly active in the eastern Donbas region. Kirby said in certain instances Russian military officials have even been “subordinate to Wagner’s command.”

Biden administration officials said with the arms sales to the private military group, North Korea is violating U.N. sanctions that ban Pyongyang from importing or exporting weapons.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, called it “despicable” that Russia, a permanent veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, which imposed the sanctions, is now using weapons procured from North Korea and Iran “to pursue its war of aggression against Ukraine.”

An unidentified spokesman at the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state media that the nation “remains unchanged in its principled stand on the issue of ‘arms transaction’ between (North Korea) and Russia which has never happened.”

The spokesman didn’t mention Thursday’s U.S. assessment that North Korea sent an arms shipment to the Wagner Group. But he accused the U.S. of “criminal acts of bringing bloodshed and destruction to Ukraine” by providing it with a large amount of weapons, while repeating its support of Russia in the war.

“I would like to say that the Russian people are the bravest people with the will and ability to defend the security and territorial integrity of their country without any others’ military support,” he said.

Kirby said the U.S. now assesses that Wagner has some 50,000 personnel fighting in Ukraine, including 10,000 contractors and 40,000 convicts that the company has recruited from prisons.

The U.S. assesses that Wagner, owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is spending about $100 million a month in the fight, Kirby said.

Wagner Group mercenaries have also been accused by Western countries and UN experts of numerous human rights abuses throughout Africa, including in the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced he had de signated the Wagner Group as an “entity of particular concern” for its activities in the Central African Republic.

Wagner has faced U.S. sanctions since 2017. The Commerce Department on Wednesday unveiled new export restrictions targeting Wagner in a bid to further restrict its access to technology and supplies.

The White House has repeatedly sought to spotlight intelligence findings that show Russia — struggling to maintain a steady supply of arms for its war in Ukraine and pinched by sanctions that are limiting access to key components for weapons manufacturing — has limited options to help it resupply weapons.

Russia has also turned to Iran to provide drones to use against Ukraine, and the Biden administration has expressed concern that Russia may seek to acquire additional advanced conventional weapons from Iran. The White House has previously said that Moscow turn to North Korea for artillery.

The British government also condemned Russia for Wagner arm’s purchase.

“The fact that President Putin is turning to North Korea for help is a sign of Russia’s desperation and isolation,” Foreign Secretary James 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.”

North Korea has sought to strengthen relations with Russia as much of Europe and the West has pulled away from Moscow.

Friday’s statement was mainly meant to deny recent Japanese media reports that North Korea transported munitions to Russia by rail. The statement called the report “false” and “the most absurd red herring, which is not worth any comment or interpretation.”

Some experts say North Korea may be seeking Russian fuel as well as technology transfers and supplies needed to advance its military capabilities as it pursues more sophisticated weapons systems targeting the United States and its allies.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have heightened because of concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The North has carried out a series of weapons demonstrations, while the U.S. and South Korea held stepped up joint defense exercises.

Thomas-Greenfield said Wagner’s purchase “contributes to instability on the Korean Peninsula by giving the DPRK funds it can use to further develop its prohibited weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.”

“Russia is not only defending the DPRK as it engages in unlawful and threatening behavior, Russia is now a partner to such behavior,” Thomas-Greenfield added.

__

Lederer reported from the United Nations. Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
14 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Oregon governor: Agency leaders used jobs for personal gain

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek on Wednesday asked the board of commissioners of the state’s marijuana and alcohol regulating authority to remove its executive director and other leaders, alleging they “abused their position for personal gain.” “This behavior is wholly unacceptable. I will not tolerate wrongful violations of our government ethics laws,” […]
2 days ago
FILE - North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein speaks in front of the Supreme Court in Washingto...
Associated Press

Appeals court backs North Carolina AG Stein on libel law

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal appeals court sided again with North Carolina’s attorney general on Wednesday, saying a 1931 libel law is most likely unconstitutional. Josh Stein has sought to block a fellow Democrat from using the law to prosecute him over a 2020 campaign commercial. In a unanimous result, the three-judge panel of […]
2 days ago
FILE - A cursor moves over Google's search engine page on Aug. 28, 2018, in Portland, Ore. The comp...
Associated Press

Investors’ query: Can Google answer Microsoft’s AI threat?

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google, a company built on finding quick answers to people’s questions, suddenly finds itself grappling for a response to a potential threat to its internet empire — a form of artificial intelligence that long-time rival Microsoft is now deploying to attack its dominant search engine. Microsoft’s assault combined with concerns about […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Chipotle, Capri fall; New Relic, CVS Health rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Wednesday: Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., down $85.45 to $1,637.41. The Mexican food chain’s fourth-quarter profit and revenue fell short of Wall Street forecasts. Fortinet Inc., up $5.86 to $59.64. The network security company gave investors an encouraging financial forecast. Capri Holdings Ltd., […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
White House: Russia’s Wagner received arms from North Korea