In a revelation to the Financial Times, Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence (HUR), stated that North Korea is currently serving as Russia's largest arms supplier.
According to Budanov's interview published on today (January 21), North Korea has provided a considerable amount of artillery ammunition to Russia.
"This has allowed Russia to breathe a little," Budanov remarked, indicating the critical role of these supplies in sustaining Russian military efforts.
"Without North Korea's help, the situation for Russia would have been catastrophic," he added.
Russia's reliance on North Korean military aid reflects its struggle to maintain weapon and munition production in line with the intense demands of the frontline. Budanov pointed out that seeking such assistance from a country like North Korea was previously deemed undignified by Moscow.
The bolstering of military ties between Moscow and Pyongyang has been particularly notable since the onset of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
A spokesperson for Ukraine's military intelligence had previously reported on January 15 that North Korea supplied Russia with approximately one million rounds of ammunition, primarily consisting of 122 mm and 152 mm artillery shells.
Adding to this, both Kyiv and Washington have reported that Russia deployed North Korean ballistic missiles for the first time against Ukraine, targeting Kharkiv on January 2.
In a related development, North Korea's state news agency KCNA reported on January 21 that Russian President Vladimir Putin plans a forthcoming visit to North Korea. This planned visit underscores the deepening military relationship between the two nations, a strategic alliance that has garnered global attention in the context of the Ukraine conflict.