The European Union and the United States have denounced North Korea “in the strongest possible terms” for providing Russia with ballistic missiles and propping up the war of aggression against Ukraine.
“The transfer of these weapons increases the suffering of the Ukrainian people, supports Russia’s war of aggression and undermines the global non-proliferation regime,” the two Western allies said in a statement released on Wednesday morning.
The communiqué was co-signed by almost 50 nations, including Japan, South Korea, Argentina, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.
The provisions of lethal equipment “flagrantly” violate multiple resolutions of the United Nations Security Council “that Russia itself supported,” they noted. The resolutions were adopted in reaction to North Korea’s nuclear programme and imposed a far-reaching embargo that prohibits exports and imports of weapons from the country.
The coalition explicitly accuses Moscow of having fired ballistic missiles supplied by Pyongyang on two specific occasions: 30 December and 2 January. The days saw the biggest air strike launched by Russia against Ukraine since the start of the full-scale war in February 2022, killing more than 30 people and injuring hundreds.
The heavy bombardment comes as the fighting on the ground becomes largely stalled due to the harsh winter conditions and Kyiv pleads with Brussels and Washington to step up their military and financial support, with few results so far.
The West has kept a close eye on the potential cooperation between Russia and North Korea since the face-to-face meeting of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jon Un in September. The recent barrages of attacks appear to confirm the worst fears and add a new worrying dimension to the war as it nears its two-year mark.
In a stark warning, the allies say the partnership will bring “valuable technical and military insights” to Pyongyang and carries “security implications” for Europe, the Korean Peninsula, the Indo-Pacific region and the entire world.
“We further call on the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) to respond to the numerous and genuine offers to return to diplomacy, the only path to an enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula,” they said.
It’s still unclear what North Korea could obtain in return for aiding the Kremlin. Previous media reports suggested the isolated autocracy was seeking to benefit from Russian technology, food provisions and humanitarian aid.
“We are closely monitoring what Russia provides to the DPRK in return for these weapons exports,” the statement said.