Russia: Putin oversees 'Vostok-2022' drills with China
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Vladimir Putin joined Russian generals as he oversaw the ‘Vostok-2022’ drills with China but gave top general, Valery Gerasimov a frosty reception. Putin attended the military exercises as Russian forces in Ukraine continue to be bogged down and on some fronts, pushed back.
Clad in Russian army clothing, Putin said between his two top generals in a command room to observe the drills.
Footage released by the Russian Ministry of Defence shows Putin sitting sullenly, not addressing either commander.
Few words are exchanged between the Kremlin top brass as they watch Russian rocket launchers pound distant targets.
The awkward encounter comes as the United States charged on Tuesday that Russia is in the process of buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from old Cold-War ally North Korea and said this showed Moscow is suffering severe supply shortages in its war in Ukraine.
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Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, dismissed the report that first appeared in the New York Times, which cited recently declassified US intelligence.
“I haven’t heard it and I think that’s another fake being circulated around,” he told reporters.
In Washington, US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told a news briefing that a Russian purchases of “millions rockets and artillery shells” for use in Ukraine would be in violation of UN sanctions on North Korea.
“These purchases indicate that the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages, due in part because of export controls and sanctions and other examples and lines of efforts that we have to hold Russia accountable,” he said.
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US officials said additional Russian purchases of North Korean military equipment were expected.
The Times report late on Monday quoted US officials as saying the purchases showed US-led sanctions had begun to reduce Russia’s ability to sustain its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow has called a “special military operation”.
Ukraine recently launched counteroffensives in several locations. In preparation for those attacks, Ukrainian forces struck Russian supply areas, including those containing artillery and ammunition.
Alastair Morgan, who served as Britain’s ambassador to North Korea from 2015 to 2018 and who was also the coordinator for the UN Panel of Experts that monitors enforcement of sanctions on North Korea, told a webinar he had no information to verify the report about Russian purchases, but added: “If it could, I’m quite sure that (North Korea) would sell arms to whoever would take them.”
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He noted that Pyongyang had repeatedly expressed support for Russia in Ukraine and clearly wanted to remain on good terms with Russia, as well as China, so that they would continue to block any further UN Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang.
Jenny Town of the Washington-based North Korea monitoring project 38 North said the reports were “very plausible” after recent high-level statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledging deeper cooperation.
“There are reports of Russian wheat and oil supplies to North Korea, and certainly, the North Koreans are not providing supplies for free,” she said.
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