SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea, Japan and the United States strongly condemned the supply of arms and military equipment by North Korea to Russia and said they had confirmed “several” deliveries of such weapons, a joint statement issued on Thursday said.
Russia and North Korea have denied the transfer of arms from the North for use in Russia’s war against Ukraine amid reports that Washington and researchers said showed movement of vessels carrying containers likely with weapons between the two countries’ ports.
While it was not possible to confirm the contents of the shipments, reports said containers from the North were later seen delivered to a Russian munitions storage facility near the border with Ukraine.
“The Republic of Korea, United States, and Japan strongly condemn the provision of military equipment and munitions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the Russian Federation for use against the government and people of Ukraine,” the statement said.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is North Korea’s official name.
“Such weapons deliveries, several of which we now confirm have been completed, will significantly increase the human toll of Russia’s war of aggression,” the statement issued by the foreign ministers of the three countries said.
North Korea is seeking military assistance from Russia to advance its own military capabilities in return for its arms support for Moscow, it said.
“We are monitoring closely for any materials that Russia provides to the DPRK in support of Pyongyang’s military objectives,” it said, adding any arms transaction with North Korea violated multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions that Moscow itself voted for.
North Korea and Russia pledged closer military cooperation when their leaders met in September in Russia’s far east. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this month and discussed implementing the agreements made at the summit.
(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Ed Davies)