Russia is using low-quality, often-defective artillery shells from North Korea that can cause problems on the front lines, Ukraine’s army said in a Facebook post Tuesday.
In some cases, the North Korean-supplied shells damage cannon and mortar barrels and even injure Russian soldiers.
It is particularly a problem in the “Dnepr” grouping of forces operating around the southern Kherson region under the command of Mikhail Teplinsky, according to Ukraine’s army.
Teplinsky, the commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, or VDV, was recently put in charge of the area where fighting has raged in recent weeks.
North Korea, one of Russia’s few international allies, has sent it large quantities of ammunition. One South Korean lawmaker estimated that North Korea had sent Russia at least a million shells, Politico reported.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea in August to ask for ammunition amid reports that Russian forces were suffering from shortages.
Trevor Taylor, the director of the Defence, Industries & Society Programme at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, previously told Politico that it was unclear whether the North Korean ammunition was of a reliable quality.
”North Korea runs a war economy, which we don’t,” Taylor said. “But whether the ammunition they are supplying is at the standard of reliability and safety that the Europeans would adhere to is another question.”
Meanwhile, fears of a Ukrainian shell famine are growing as Western military aid shows signs of faltering.
During its counteroffensive in the summer, Ukrainian forces burned through artillery shells at a rate of about 7,000 rounds a day, figures from Estonia’s defence ministry show.
The Kiel Institute, which has tracked aid promised and sent to Ukraine, said in an update earlier this month that while the new US aid package was delayed to next year, the EU’s commitment to supplying one million rounds of ammunition has stalled.
Israel’s war with Hamas could also divert tens of thousands of artillery rounds intended for Ukraine, Axios reported in October.
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