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U.S. says Russia has made 'shameful' moves toward new North Korea arms deals

In side-by-side photos: Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in Moscow, Aug. 23, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party at its headquarters in Pyongyang, North Korea, in early 2023.
Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool and Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
In side-by-side photos: Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in Moscow, Aug. 23, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party at its headquarters in Pyongyang, North Korea, in early 2023.

The United States has accused Russia of trying to do major arms deals with North Korea, following a new U.S. intelligence report that claimed the two countries were "actively advancing" high-level talks for additional weapons to support Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, stood alongside her counterparts from Japan, South Korea and Britain to condemn Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for going to a recent military parade in North Korea, also known as the DPRK.

"The United States is now able to share that Shoigu's visit was more than just a photo op," Thomas-Greenfield said. "Russia used this visit to the DPRK to try to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Russia."

She added: "This is not the first time Russia has moved to violate [U.N.] Security Council resolutions to pursue its illegal war against Ukraine. There is now incontrovertible evidence that Russia has procured drones from Iran in violation of another resolution."

According to the U.S. intelligence, the potential agreement would allow North Korea to ship "significant quantities and multiple types" of weapons to Russia for deployment in Ukraine.

The U.S. representative to the U.N. called Shoigu's visit "shameful." She said there had been more follow-up talks and an exchange of letters between the leaders of the Russia and North Korea.

Washington and its Asian allies' relations with both Pyongyang and Moscow have continued to deteriorate since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

On Wednesday, South Korea said North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles, hours after the U.S. flew at least one long-range bomber to the Korean Peninsula in warnings to Pyongyang.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.