US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Tuesday that discussions between North Korea and Russia on a potential deal that would allow Pyongyang to provide military support for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine are evidence that economic sanctions against Russia have succeeded in shrinking the country’s defense industrial base.
“We will continue to call it out, and we will continue to call on North Korea to abide by its public commitments not to supply weapons to Russia that will end up killing Ukrainians. Over time, we have not seen them actively supply large amounts of munitions or other military capacity to Russia for the war in Ukraine,” Sullivan said during Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
“I cannot predict you what will happen at the end of this, I can only say that the discussions have been actively advancing and the Russians have imbued them with an increased intensity, as reflected in the fact that their defense minister (Sergei Shoigu) — their number-one guy in their defense establishment — actually got on a plane and flew to Pyongyang to try to push this forward,” he said.
The national security adviser said President Joe Biden's administration has been discussing the possibility of North Korea providing Russia with weapons “for quite some time,” and it’s possible in the near future that those discussions may see North Korea’s Kim Jong Un participate in “leader-level discussions, perhaps even in-person leader-level discussions.”
“We have also imposed sanctions, specific targeted sanctions, to try to disrupt any effort to use North Korea as a conduit or as a source for weapons going to Russia; we did so as recently as mid-August, and we have continued to convey that privately as well as publicly to the North Koreans and asked allies and partners to do the same,” Sullivan said. “Our view is that they should abide by their publicly stated commitments that they're not going to provide these weapons.”