Russia has been forced to buy military hardware from North Korea as sanctions squeeze Moscow’s ability to supply its military, the US says.
A US official revealed Moscow is the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from Pyongyang for use in Ukraine.
And they said that Russia could be forced to buy additional North Korean weaponry as the war dragged on.
Buying from North Korea is a sign of “severe supply shortages”, they added.
The intelligence was first reported by the New York Times. Ukraine’s defence ministry tweeted a mocking response to the report, saying that it showed “Soviet weapons” had “exhausted their potential”.
The ministry said the while Ukraine was switching to Nato standards, Russia was heading in the direction of North Korean standards – be it in the field of “weapons, politics or standard of living”.
Kim Jong-un’s regime has blamed the US for the conflict and accused the West of pursuing a “hegemonic policy” that justified Russia’s use of force.
Last month, North Korea recognised the independence of Russia’s two proxy statelets in eastern Ukraine – the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics – and vowed to deepen its “comradely friendship” with Moscow.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin said the two countries would expand their “comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations”, according to Pyongyang state media.
Broad economic sanctions have done little to damage Russia’s income from energy exports, according to Finnish think tank the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
It estimates Russia has made €158bn (£136bn) from surging fossil fuel prices during the six-month invasion, with EU imports accounting for more than half of that.