Russia-Ukraine war live: North Korea denies supplying Russia’s Wagner group with weapons | Ukraine

North Korea denies supplying Russia’s Wagner group with weapons

North Korea’s foreign ministry denied a media report it supplied munitions to Russia, calling it “groundless,” and denounced the United States for providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported on Friday.

Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun reported earlier that North Korea had shipped munitions, including artillery shells, to Russia via train through their border last month and that additional shipments were expected in the coming weeks.

“The Japanese media’s false report that the DPRK offered munitions to Russia is the most absurd red herring, which is not worth any comment or interpretation,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement carried by the KCNA.

The White House said on Thursday the North has completed an initial arms delivery to a private Russian military company, the Wagner Group, to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine.

The North Korean foreign ministry statement did not make any mention of Wagner, Reuters reports.

Key events

Matt Fidler

In early 2022, the Ukrainian photojournalist Evgeny Maloletka was covering violence in Kazakhstan when his attention turned back home: there were several reports signalling that Russia was preparing an invasion.

He didn’t have to think twice: he knew he had to be back in his home country. By mid-January, he was already working on assignment for the Associated Press in the city of Kharkiv and the Donbas region, in eastern Ukraine, where there was a growing tension among Russian proxies.

Maloletka was based in Kharkiv, 25 miles from some of the tens of thousands of Russian troops massed at the border, as diplomatic efforts to find a solution continued.

When Maloletka and the AP team estimated that the invasion was imminent, they moved to the city of Mariupol, in south-east Ukraine. They thought that if war broke out, Mariupol would be key because it was a strategic seaport. They were not wrong.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Friday it condemns North Korea’s arms shipment to a private Russian military company, the Wagner Group, adding it supports the United States’ push to raise the issue at the UN security council.

The White House said on Thursday North Korea has completed an initial arms delivery to the Wagner Group to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine.

A senior Russian diplomat has said that talks on security guarantees for Russia cannot take place while Nato instructors and “mercenaries” remain in Ukraine, and while western arms supplies to the country continue.

In an interview with the Russian state-owned news agency Tass, Alexander Darchiev, head of the Russian foreign ministry’s North America department, said talks would be premature “until the flood of weapons and financing for the [Ukrainian president Volodymyr] Zelenskiy regime stops, American and Nato servicemen/mercenaries/instructors are withdrawn”.

Russia typically refers to foreign volunteers fighting with the Ukrainian army as “mercenaries”, and has convicted captured foreign fighters of acting as such, Reuters reports.

Henry Belot

Australia’s financial intelligence agency has warned Russian paramilitary groups are soliciting cryptocurrency donations to buy weapons and that Australians have donated to terrorist organisations overseas.

Senior executives at Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) also said cryptocurrency has become a “standard part of the money-laundering tool kit” for organised crime groups in Australia.

The agency’s deputy chief executive and head of intelligence, John Moss, said crypto was no longer considered a “niche option” for criminal activity and had become more mainstream.

“We are now seeing more traditional money laundering being displaced into cryptocurrency, particularly to send money offshore,” he said.

Moss said Russian groups have been soliciting digital currency donations on social media to buy weapons, drones and armour for the conflict in Ukraine:

Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s surprise visit to Washington – the Ukrainian president’s first overseas trip since the Russian invasion 300 days ago – started with a secretive train ride to Poland late on Tuesday.

The next morning he arrived in the southern Polish city of Przemysl, where he was spotted at the train station, according to footage from private broadcaster TVN, along with the US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, who accompanied him.

Zelenskiy’s visit had been planned for days and organised in secret because of concerns about his safety, but details were tweeted on Tuesday by a reporter from US-based newsletter Punchbowl News.

In Poland, Zelenskiy boarded a US government plane which landed at about noon EST on Wednesday at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland near Washington.

He traveled by motorcade to Blair House, the presidential guest house along Pennsylvania Avenue, and after freshening up from his trip went to the nearby White House, where he was greeted by President Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden.

Air raid alert ends in Mykolaiv

The air raid warning for Mykolaiv has ended, local governor Vitalii Kim has said on Telegram.

Back to North Korea: According to the White House, Wagner took delivery of infantry rockets and missiles from North Korea, though Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin denied the assertion as “gossip and speculation”, Reuters reports.

“The DPRK remains unchanged in its principled stand on the issue of ‘arms transaction’ between the DPRK and Russia which has never happened,” the North Korean spokesperson said, adding it is the US that’s “bringing bloodshed and destruction to Ukraine by providing it with various kinds of lethal weapons”.

DPRK are the initials of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Air raid sirens sound in Mykolaiv

Air raid sirens were sounding shortly before 7am in Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine, the regional governor Vitalli Kim indicated on Telegram, in a series of posts saying, “Air alarm”.

Kherson governor Yaroslav Yanushevych also posted an air raid alarm, but shortly afterwards said that the alert was over.

North Korea denies supplying Russia’s Wagner group with weapons

North Korea’s foreign ministry denied a media report it supplied munitions to Russia, calling it “groundless,” and denounced the United States for providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported on Friday.

Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun reported earlier that North Korea had shipped munitions, including artillery shells, to Russia via train through their border last month and that additional shipments were expected in the coming weeks.

“The Japanese media’s false report that the DPRK offered munitions to Russia is the most absurd red herring, which is not worth any comment or interpretation,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement carried by the KCNA.

The White House said on Thursday the North has completed an initial arms delivery to a private Russian military company, the Wagner Group, to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine.

The North Korean foreign ministry statement did not make any mention of Wagner, Reuters reports.

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine. My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest developments for the next few hours.

It is 7.30 in Kyiv. Our top stories this morning: North Korea’s foreign ministry denied a media report it supplied munitions to Russia, calling it “groundless,” and denounced the United States for providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported on Friday.

And in Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine, air raid sirens sounded early this morning, according to the region’s mayor, Vitalii Kim on Telegram.

More on these stories shortly. Here are the other key recent developments:

  • The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he was returning to Ukraine “with good results” after his visit to Washington. In his first video message after meeting with Joe Biden and addressing the US Congress, Zelenskiy thanked the president “for his help, his international leadership and his determination to win”.

  • Zelenskiy gave a defiant address to the joint session of Congress on Wednesday, saying Washington’s continued support was key to ultimate victory. His trip to the US – his first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – came amid concern that the incoming Republican leadership of the House of Representatives might oppose proposals for an additional $45bn in weapons and other assistance next year.

  • The White House announced a further $1.85bn in aid including, for the first time, Patriot air defence missiles to protect Ukraine’s infrastructure, already crippled by Russian attacks.

  • The US is imposing fresh sanctions on 10 Russian naval entities over Russian operations against Ukrainian ports, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said. Six of the entities targeted in the latest sanctions were designated for operating or having operated in both the defence and related material sector and the marine sector of the Russian economy, the US state department said on Thursday.

  • The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said the Patriot air defence the US was supplying to Ukraine was an old weapons system that Russia would be able to “knock down”. “The Patriot air defence is an outdated system,” Putin told reporters in Moscow, adding that Russia’s S-300 system outperformed it.

  • Answering a question on the possibility to end the war with Ukraine through diplomatic means, Putin said that “all armed conflicts end through negotiations”. The Kremlin said the US supply of Patriot missile systems to Kyiv would not contribute to settling the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and would not prevent Moscow from achieving its goals.

  • A Russian-installed official in a part of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region controlled by Russian forces was killed on Thursday in a car bomb attack, according to the pro-Moscow local administration. Andrei Shtepa, the pro-Russian head of the village of Lyubimovka in the Kherson region, reportedly died after a car blew up, it said, blaming “Ukrainian terrorists”. The report has not been able to be independently verified.

  • German authorities said they arrested an employee of the country’s foreign intelligence service on suspicion of treason for allegedly passing information to Russia. The suspect, a German citizen identified only as Carsten L, was arrested in Berlin on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said in a statement. It comes just days after Austria said it had identified a 39-year-old Greek citizen it suspected of spying for Russia.

  • Vladimir Putin called Israel’s prime minister-designate, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday to congratulate him on forming a government and to discuss the situation in Ukraine, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office. Netanyahu told Putin “he hopes a way will be found quickly to end the war [with Ukraine] and the suffering caused by it”, it said.


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