The White House on Wednesday said it was concerned by the “actively advancing” arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea that could provide Moscow with further ammunition for the war in Ukraine.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu had recently travelled to North Korea to try to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition and other weapons and equipment to Moscow.
“Under these potential deals, Russia would receive significant quantities and multiple types of munitions from [North Korea], which the Russian military plans to use in Ukraine,” Mr Kirby told reporters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had exchanged letters pledging to increase bilateral co-operation, and a group of Russian officials had travelled to Pyongyang for “follow-up discussions”, Mr Kirby said.
“Following these negotiations, high-level discussions may continue in the coming months.”
He said that any arms deal between Russia and North Korea would violate several UN Security Council resolutions. He added that the US would continue to monitor the situation closely.
The US and other western nations have imposed dozens of sanctions on the Russian government, individuals and entities in an effort to weaken its military capacity in its invasion of Ukraine.
Western powers have also been providing the Ukrainian army with financial support, weapons and training.
On Wednesday, Moscow said it had shot down Ukrainian drones in six regions of Russia. Officials said four transport aircraft were also destroyed at an airport in western Russia.
In Ukraine, at least two people were killed in Russian air strikes on Kyiv.
Mr Kirby said that Mr Putin's reaching out to North Korea is a sign of “desperation and weakness”.
“Why else would Mr Putin have to be reaching out to rogue regimes – he's going to Iran, he's going to go to North Korea to try to get artillery shells and the basic materials so that he can continue to shore up his defence industrial base,” Mr Kirby said.
“There is no other way to look at that – the desperation and weakness, quite frankly.”