Kim Jong-un has sent Russia three million shells, claims South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects an armaments factory in North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects an armaments factory - Korean Central News Agency/REUTERS
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

North Korea may have sent more than three million artillery shells to Russia to fuel its war in Ukraine, South Korea’s defence minister has said.

The alarming estimate from Seoul comes as Ukraine begins a third year of conflict, facing an onslaught by waves of Russian troops and armour on the eastern front lines as its supply of Western ammunition begins to run dry.

Shin Won-sik, South Korea’s defence chief, told local media that the North had sent 6,700 shipping containers of ammunition to Russia since July, which may contain more than 3 million 152mm artillery shells, or 500,000 122mm rounds.

“It could possibly be a mix of the two, and you can say that at least several million shells have been sent,” said Mr Shin, according to Yonhap news agency.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet in Amur, in the far east of Russia, in September
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet in Amur, in the far east of Russia, in September - SPUTNIK/REUTERS

He added that North Korean munitions factories supplying to Russia were “operating at full capacity”.

The latest information, which cannot be independently verified, offers a fresh insight into Pyongyang’s clandestine support for Russia’s war effort.

Kim Jong Un visits the Ministry of National Defence on the 76th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang, North Korea on Feb 9
Kim Jong-Un on the 76th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang earlier this month - Korean Central News Agency/REUTERS

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s much-needed military support from the United States remains in doubt.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, told CNN this week that “millions” could die in his country if the US Congress does not sign off on President Joe Biden’s $60 billion aid request for Kyiv.

The Ukrainian government has blamed the recent loss of Avdiivka, a city in Donetsk, on a lack of ammunition. Kyiv fears the shortages could lead to further battlefield defeats as Russia’s vast army begins to break through a grinding stalemate.

Russia and North Korea have denied any exchange of weapons, even though they have openly pledged to deepen defence ties.

Kim Jong Un, front left, provides direction as North Korea test-fires a surface-to-sea missile on Feb 14
Kim Jong-Un, front left, during the test-firing of a surface-to-sea missile on Feb 14 - Korean Central News Agency

In a factsheet released on Friday, the US state department said that Pyongyang had delivered more than 10,000 containers of munitions or related materials to Russia since last September, when Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un met for a high-profile summit.

In exchange, impoverished North Korea is believed to have received some 9,000 containers of mainly food supplies. Russia has also been accused of providing technological assistance for Pyongyang’s military surveillance satellite programme.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.