North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to travel to Russia for talks with Vladimir Putin over the possible sale of arms to support Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
David Silbey is an associate professor of history at Cornell University specializing in military history, defense policy and battlefield analysis. He says Putin’s turn to North Korea is a sign of the resource intensive nature of the war in Ukraine.
Silbey says: “Best estimates are that the Russians are firing 20,000+ artillery shells a day, a rate that burns through their production enormously quickly. The result is that they’re looking anywhere for shells (and ammunition generally) and North Korea actually has a fairly substantial production capability, a legacy of their long cold war with South Korea over the demilitarized zone.
“None of this is particularly high-tech, but high-tech weapons aren’t what’s defining this war, despite the omnipresence of TikTok videos of drone strikes. What’s defining this war is the World War I & II style defensive technologies and methods: barbed wire, mines, trenches and fortifications, and multiple belts of defenders spread deeply across the front.
“There’s no way around for the Ukrainians and so they have to fight their way through the defenses under a hail of artillery fire — taking massive casualties as they do so. The United States hasn’t fought a war like this since 1945 and we’re struggling to keep up our production of cheap but effective artillery shells to supply to Ukraine. Given this massive usage, the North Koreans find themselves in the peculiar position of being needed and Kim Jong-un is taking advantage of that with the Russians.”
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