Russia and North Korea are old friends who use similar weaponry

Military cooperation between Russia and North Korea has a history going back to former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s support of Kim Jong Un's grandfather at the start of the Korean War in 1950.

But it has waned in more recent years, especially when Russia, with veto power in the UN Security Council, supported the implementation of sanctions on North Korea.

Still, that long history means there are many similarities in their weapons stocks that could be useful to Russia.

“North Korea makes good what I call heavy industrial weapons,” said Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center. “Its artillery and ammunition is very good. It’s very similar to Russian designs.”

Doo Jin-ho, research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, agreed: "North Korea’s 152mm artillery ammunition and 122mm multiple rocket launcher ammunition can be used on Russian weapons immediately," he added.

And in return, Doo said, Russia could provide various things on North Korea’s wish list: reentry technology, improved launch capabilities for submarine-launched ballistic missiles, satellite reconnaissance capabilities, and even help with launching satellites.

North Korean ammunition wouldn't be a game-changer for Russia — but it could "help replenish depleted stocks and prolong the conflict" in Ukraine, said Joseph Dempsey, research associate for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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