Wagner Mercenaries Killed In Ambush During Battle For Bakhmut: Video Customs112/Pixabay

The U.S. accused North Korea on Thursday of selling arms to the Russian paramilitary organization known as the Wagner Group in a bid to bolster its forces to assist the Russian military in its war against Ukraine. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that an arms shipment last month included rockets as well as missiles. Kirby said the number of weapons delivered to the mercenary group is not enough to tip the scales but the U.S. is concerned that North Korea may continue to deliver more military equipment.

Sources from the Associated Press said that North Korea denied the accusations that it shipped weapons and munitions to Russia on Friday, calling the allegations as nothing more than a “groundless theory” formulated by “dishonest forces”. The White House has previously mentioned concerns over the Wagner Group’s growing involvement as its mercenaries have been exceptionally active in the eastern Donbas region. Kirby also noted that there have been incidents where Russian officers were taking orders from Wagner’s mercenary command.

Officials from the Biden administration said the arms deal between North Korea and a paramilitary group was in violation of United Nations sanctions that banned Pyongyang from trading weapons outside the country. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. envoy to the UN, called the trade “despicable,” as Russia remains a veto-wielding member within the U.N. Security Council which imposed the sanctions, but is now using weapons and munitions purchased from countries under the same restrictions to reinforce its offensive against Ukraine.

On the other hand, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner group has strongly denied such claims by the U.S. saying these are mere "gossip and speculation". In a statement published on his Telegram channel, Prigozhin stressed that it has been quite some time since North Korea has supplied weapons to the Russian Federation. At the same time, he noted that they do buy a lot of American weapons, hence, his lawyers are going to actively push for the U.S. to lift its sanctions on the supply of weapons to Wagner PMC.

Meanwhile, an unnamed spokesman at the North Korean Foreign Ministry said North Korea remains a strong supporter of Russia in the war in a statement released via the country's state media. The statement highlighted that Pyongyang remains unchanged in its principled stand on the issue of arms transactions while accusing the U.S. of criminal acts by providing weapons to Ukraine, causing bloodshed and destruction to the nation.

According to the U.K. government, the mercenary group's forces in Ukraine increased from just 1,000 to 20,000. The group has also seen action in many conflicts around the world, notably Syria and many countries across the African continent, and has been repeatedly accused of war crimes and human rights abuses. Kirby said the Wagner group is continuing its search around the world for anyone who is able to resupply its expended armaments from its operations in Ukraine.

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