|The Harder They Fall||
12 September 2023
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting with North Korean President Kim Jong-un today in eastern Russia. The talks are between two international gangsters who can do one another a favor. Russia needs more weaponry, especially ammunition, to continue its aggression against Ukraine. North Korea needs just about everything but weapons. So a food and technology trade for artillery shells seems in the works. It is just another sign that Russia is a has-been power.
The USSR/Russia has been on North Korea\'s side since the Korean War in the 1950s. The relationship was one of imperial Russia building a satellite state, along with China, on the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang was the client state. Now, the two nations are coming together on a more equal footing.
"If they are looking for weaponry in North Korea, one of the poorest and less developed countries of the world -- an isolated country -- to my mind that is the utmost humiliation of the propaganda of Russian \'great power\'," believes former Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev. Mr Kozyrev was speaking to a BBC correspondent in a video call from the United States where he currently resides. "A great power would not go to North Korea for an alliance or military supplies."
A great power, however, would have had its tanks in Kyiv after a week of fighting, probably less. Russia has a hollowed out, but still mildly effective, military. It has an economy based on natural resource expolitation, much like imperial colonies in the last couple hundred years. While Russia has its nukes, it remains a danger, but it is less capable than at any time since the 1930s.
North Korea has been a basket-case at least since the famine of the 1990s, and quite likely, before that. Starvation is more common than it should be. A symbol of prestige in North Korean society was, and may still be, a rice cooker. It implies that one has rice to cook. If Russia is a gas station with nukes (as per the late John McCain), then North Korea is a refugee camp armed to the teeth. The food aid comes first, but Mr. Kim also wants missile and satellite technology. Russia may well provide it.
The battlefield situation in which Russia finds itself is not a happy one, but it is not desperate yet. Mr. Putin is trying to insure it never becomes desperate, and the North Korean connection is part of it. The Russians fired 10-11 million artillery shells in the last year. It needs to replenish that, and it is unclear if the Russian artillery factories can keep up.
Forbes magazine wrote a few months ago, "Russia is reportedly drawing on old ammunition reserves, but reportedly as many of 50% of the shells are visibly rusty and are not in a satisfactory state due to poor storage and sheer age. Troops are reportedly being issued ammunition previously declared unfit for use." Russia is using the old stuff because it as used up the new equipment.
Using North Korean ordnance is not likely to improve this. Patrick Hinton, a British Army fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said in a recent report, "Poorly made ammunition will have inconsistent performance - behaviours in flight may be affected which will reduce accuracy; poor quality fuses may lead to premature function; shelf life may be reduced if the content is poorly made," he said. "These all need to be made to a high specification otherwise they may not land where they are expected to which can have catastrophic consequences."
When North Korea shot at Yeonpyeong (an island) in 2020, they fired some 170 shells. Experts at the 38 North project, a DC think-tank, half landed in the water and 20% that hit land failed to explode. Siemon Wezeman, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute stated, "it would matter if [North] Korean ammunition is of such poor quality that it is just unsafe to use for Russian soldiers -- there have been indications that such quality issues play with Korean ammunition."
Yet Russia will take it because it will need it.
© Copyright 2023 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.