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White House: Russia, N. Korea engaged in food for arms deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Thursday said it has new evidence that Russia is looking again to North Korea for weapons to fuel the war in Ukraine, this time in a deal that would provide Pyongyang with needed food and other commodities in return.

It’s the latest accusation that Russia, desperate for weaponry and restricted by sanctions and export controls, is turning to “rogue” nations to help it continue to prosecute the 13-month-old war.

“As part of this proposed deal, Russia would receive over two dozen kinds of weapons and munitions from Pyongyang,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. “We also understand that Russia is seeking to send a delegation to North Korea and that Russia is offering North Korea food in exchange for munitions.”

The administration has previously declassified intelligence to present evidence that Iran sold hundreds of attack drones to Russia over the summer and that the Wagner Group, a private Russian military company, has taken delivery of arms from North Korea to help bolster its forces as they fight side-by-side with Russian troops in Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that U.S. intelligence suggested China was considering providing arms and ammunition to Russia, though White House officials have said they have yet to see evidence of Beijing following through with weapons delivery.

The publicizing of Russia’s efforts to get weapons from North Korea is just the latest example of the Biden administration loosening restrictions on intelligence findings and making them public over the course of the grinding war in Ukraine. The administration has said it has sought to disseminate the intelligence findings so allies and the public remain clear-eyed about Moscow’s intent and Russia thinks twice about its actions.

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