According to a report from the New York Post, recent Russian state television broadcasts have asserted that North Korea is offering the country up to 100,000 troops to assist in the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been going on now for over five months, with some pundits wondering whether a stalemate is in the cards between the two countries. But if reports regarding North Korea offering assistance to Russia in terms of manpower are true, then this notion of a stalemate could be upended.
While it has yet to be verified, Russian journalist Igor Korotchenko claimed during a Russian Channel One broadcast that, “There are reports that 100,000 North Korean volunteers are prepared to come and take part in the conflict.”
Korotchenko reportedly spoke glowingly of North Korea’s “wealth of experience with counter-battery warfare,” adding, “If North Korea expresses a desire to meet its international duty to fight against Ukrainian fascism, we should let them.”
However, this concept of a purported “volunteer” unit from North Korea aiding Russia could also lend credence to speculations that Putin is running out of proverbial gas in the realm of manpower to continue the conflict.
Back in July, British Intelligence MI6 Chief Richard Moore held a Q-and-A session at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, where he asserted that, “Our assessment is that the Russians will increasingly find it difficult to supply manpower [and] materiel over the next few weeks.”
When speaking on the Russian troops being deployed on the frontlines of Ukraine, Moore noted, “These are not middle class kids from St. Petersburg or Moscow…These are poor kids from rural parts of Russia, they’re from blue collar towns in Siberia, they are disproportionately from ethnic minorities — these are [Putin’s] cannon fodder.”
In terms of Russian casualties suffered during the conflict, the National Review cites that some estimations “put the number of Russian soldiers killed as high as 15,000 to 25,000.”
This isn’t the first instance of North Korea being thrown into the mix with respect to the Russia/Ukraine conflict, with reports from July noting that North Korean workers were going to be assisting Russia in reconstructing areas of the Donbas region that have been damaged during the conflict.
The news of North Korean workers assisting Russia in the Donbas region came from Alexander Matsegora, the Russian ambassador to North Korea. It’s not exactly clear what North Korea’s endgame is exactly in aligning with Russia, but they’re one of the three countries who officially recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk territories situated in Ukraine – with the other two countries being Syria and obviously Russia.
Matsegora has said in the past that North Korea isn’t receiving anything for aligning with Russia, but that they’re assisting the country as a matter of following their “conscience.”
“North Korea is one of the very few countries that can afford to pursue a completely independent foreign policy. No one – neither Russia with China, let alone the United States – can force North Koreans to do something or not to do something.”