The White House revealed on Thursday that it has evidence that North Korea shipped artillery rockets and missiles to a Russian private military group in November.
The rockets and missiles were delivered to the Wagner Group last month, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said, according to the Washington Examiner.
The Biden administration added it was worried about North Korea sending additional weapons to Russia, given that Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to now be relying on military hardware from other countries, including Iranian drones, to continue the war in Ukraine.
“Just like the Russian government, Wagner has been forced to rely on pariah states to enable its [Ukraine] campaign,” Kirby said.
He blamed Wagner soldiers for “atrocities and human rights abuses across Ukraine,” including on the front lines of the war.
The US government believes Wagner has around 50,000 soldiers fighting in Ukraine, including 40,000 convicts.
Kirby noted that Putin has been delegating combat operations in Donbas to Wagner and that “in certain instances, Russian military officials are actually subordinate to Wagner’s command.”
He described Wagner as “emerging as a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries.”
On Wednesday, the White House announced new sanctions on technology exports to Wagner, in an attempt to block its use of US materials in its campaign in Ukraine, Reuters reported.