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Russian soldier in Ukraine discusses North Korean weapons in video

Video of a Russian soldier in Ukraine talking about ammunition supplied by North Korea surfaced on social media this week, apparently debunking denials by Pyongyang and Moscow that the isolated East Asian country is supplying weapons for the war there.

A video titled “Multiple rocket launcher (MRL) extended-range shells kindly provided by North Korean comrades have arrived in the NVO zone,” was shared on Nov. 12 on a Telegram channel called Paratrooper’s Diary, which contains frequent posts from Russian troops fighting in the northern front in Ukraine.

The video shows a Russian soldier standing in front of a pile of rockets.

“Our friends gave us a new type of ammunition similar to the twenty-second,” the soldier said in a possible reference to the rocket’s designation of R-122. “They travel farther distances and hit the target with higher accuracy. The victory will be ours.”  

If the weapons are indeed North Korean, it would be proof that Russia is in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874, which prohibits arms trade with North Korea.

The prospect that the rockets were provided by North Korea is very likely, David Maxwell, vice president of the Center for Asia Pacific Strategy, told RFA Korean.   

These MRLs are ubiquitous,” Maxwell said. “Since the weapons are so common and so heavily used for indirect fire against tactical Ukrainian targets, the Russians are likely going through their ammunition stocks rapidly and thus need resupply from North Korea.”

The rockets in the video were also identified as North Korean by military blogger War Noir on X

The rockets appear to be rare R-122 HE-FRAG rockets with F-122 fuzes. These are produced and supplied #NorthKorea/#DPRK,” a Nov. 8 tweet by War Noir, which contained the same video, said. 

RFA previously reported that the same blogger had identified North Korean weaponry used by Hamas fighters in attacks on Israel last month. 

Russian denials

Though both Pyongyang and Moscow have denied that North Korea is supplying Russia with weapons for use in Ukraine, this is not the first time that evidence to the contrary has surfaced.

In October, the Ukrainian weapons analysis group ‘Ukraine Weapons Tracker’ released photos showing the Russian military using North Korean-made artillery shells in a tweet on X.

But on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, said at a press conference that allegations that Russia was using North Korean weapons were “completely groundless.”

“[The allegations] have not been confirmed by anything,” he said.

North Korea has also dismissed the idea, calling it an “absurd manipulation of public opinion.”

The United States is deeply concerned about “the expansion of military cooperation between North Korea and Russia,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday. “North Korea is providing lethal weapons to Russia.”

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification was also critical of the apparent uptick in military cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow at a press briefing last month.

North Korea has repeatedly denied arms trade with Russia, but related circumstances are coming to light one after another,” the ministry’s spokesperson Koo Byoung Sam said. “The true nature of North Korea, which has deceived the entire world, is being revealed to the world.”

RFA sent a message to the administrator of the Telegram channel to confirm the veracity of the video which is saying that the Russian military received North Korean weapons but did not receive a response.

Translated by Claire Shinyoung Oh Lee. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster.