Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine has been characterized by two distinct realities: The troops from Moscow having their derrieres handed to them, and the Kremlin spouting off at the mouth to prevent the rest of the world from intervening.
Essentially what happened was that Russia’s abject failures in Ukraine exposed the myth that their military was competent and powerful, leading to questions about just how much international involvement it would take to bring the whole invasion to a grinding halt.
Russia, sensing this but never willing to admit this, quickly began suggesting the use of nuclear weapons against any nation that entered the conflict in earnest.
But, as it turns out, Russia appears to be flying in a little outside help of their own.
At a press briefing on Friday, White House National Security Council (NSC) communications director John Kirby accused North Korea of supplying ammunition to invading Russian forces in Ukraine.
Kirby claimed the munitions were passed to Russia’s infamous Wagner Group, a mercenary organization led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Kirby estimated the Wagner Group has about 50,000 personnel in Ukraine at present, the majority of them prison convicts recruited by Wagner, to the evident displeasure of Russian officials.
“Wagner is becoming a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries. Publicly, Prigozhin and his fighters have criticized Russian generals and defense officials for their performance on the battlefield,” he said.
He made no attempt to sugarcoat the accusation.
“As we have said publicly, North Korea delivered infantry rockets and missiles into Russia for use by Wagner toward the end of last year,” Kirby said. He supported his accusations with satellite photos of Russian railroad cars that traveled to North Korea in November and returned loaded with shipping containers.
Russia has also been receiving drone supplies and training from members of the Iranian military, some of whom are believed to have traveled to Ukraine to perform their duties.