The White House said on Thursday that the Russian paramilitary group Wagner had received an initial shipment of weapons from North Korea to support Russian troops in their offensive in Ukraine, while the Kremlin denounced the delivery to Kyiv by the United States of a Patriot air defense missile system.
Not enough weapons to the point of having to source elsewhere? According to Washington, Wagner would have arms delivered from North Korea. An American official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he saw in this move the growing role of the Wagner group in what Russia presents as a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The spokesman for the White House National Security Council confirmed that a first delivery of weapons had been made by North Korea to the Wagner group, denouncing it as a violation of international sanctions targeting Pyongyang.
Washington is concerned that North Korea is preparing additional arms deliveries to the Russian paramilitary group, John Kirby added during a press briefing. New US sanctions will be announced against the Wagner Group and its network, he said.
The Wagner Group boss called the US statements “gossip“. “Everyone knows that North Korea has not supplied weapons to Russia for a long time. And no such steps have been taken,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a statement.
There has been no arms transaction with Russia, the North Korean Foreign Ministry denied, quoted by the official KCNA news agency, describing as “absurd” the elements reported in particular by the Japanese press.
According to the information available to it, the United States believes that the quantity of weapons delivered by Pyongyang will only have a limited impact on the dynamics of the conflict in Ukraine, the American official told Reuters.
“Last month, North Korea delivered infantry rockets and missiles to Russia for Wagner,” he said.
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End my war
Russian President Vladimir Putin also said on Thursday that he wanted the war with Ukraine to end, saying that the end of any conflict was through negotiations.
These statements come the day after Volodimir Zelensky’s visit to the White House. The Ukrainian president, who was making his first trip abroad since the start of the war, met with his American counterpart Joe Biden, who highlighted the solidarity of the United States.
Russia repeats that it is ready for dialogue, but Ukraine and its allies see it as a tactic intended to gain time after a series of setbacks by Russian troops since the start of their offensive on February 24.
Moscow ensures that Kyiv refuses any negotiation, while Ukraine has set as a precondition the return of the territories occupied by Russia.
“We do not want to fuel the military conflict but, on the contrary, to end this war,” Vladimir Putin told reporters. “We are working on that, and the sooner the better.”
An antidote to the Patriot missile
“All armed conflicts end in one way or another with some form of negotiation on the diplomatic channel,” added the Russian president. “At some point, all parties to a conflict between states sit down and seal a deal. The sooner those who oppose us realize this, the better.”
Vladimir Putin also said that he interpreted the decision of the United States to deliver a Patriot system to Ukraine as a way of prolonging the conflict. He was optimistic about Russia’s ability to counter this system.
An “antidote will always be found”, assured the Russian president, describing the American system as “obsolete” and not as efficient as the Russian S-300 system.
Earlier in the day, the Kremlin spokesman said delivering the Patriot system would not help settle the conflict or prevent Russia from achieving its goals.
During a conference call with journalists, Dmitry Peskov also felt that there had been no call for peace or any sign of willingness “to listen to Russia’s concerns” during Volodimir’s visit. Zelensky in Washington, which would prove, according to him, that the United States is indirectly waging a war with Russia by using the Ukrainians.
Considered one of the most advanced American defense devices, the Patriot is capable of intercepting aircraft and ballistic missiles, in particular. Several months should be needed before its deployment, the time to train Ukrainian troops in its use.
Moscow has said that once in place, the Patriot systems will be a legitimate target for Russian strikes.
War in Ukraine: according to the United States, the Russian paramilitary group Wagner received weapons from North Korea