Is North Korea sending 100,000 troops to fight Ukraine?

As Russian forces struggle to make new gains in Ukraine in the midst of intense fighting Y reported low morale among its troops, Moscow is reported to have turned to its allies for support.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, media and intelligence reports have claimed that Russia has received military support from Syriasome friendly to the Kremlin african republics and Iran, which has reportedly supplied its combat unmanned aerial vehicles to Russia (but so far it has denied the claims).

North Korea is another close ally of the Kremlin, but recent media reports that Pyongyang is prepared to send an army of 100,000 “volunteer” soldiers to fight in Ukraine have drawn attention.

Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ride an escalator after their talks on the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island in Russia’s far eastern port of Vladivostok , on April 25, 2019. Media reports in August speculated that North Korea was prepared to send a “100,000-volunteer strong army” to fight in Ukraine alongside the Russians.
ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP via Getty Images

the claim

Dozens of media users claimed in recent days that up to 100,000 “volunteers” from North Korea were offered to Moscow for its military operation in Ukraine.

“Breaking: North Korea just offered Russia 100,000 troops to help defeat Ukraine according to Russian state media,” one tweet read.

Others who made the claim cited various articles, including a by a Zero Hedge conspiracy theorist website. Some of the posts appeared to quote Russian state television.

The facts

Several media outlets carried articles repeating the claim that 100,000 North Korean “volunteers” could be sent to fight for Russia in Ukraine, including Business Insider and the National Review.

Several of them cited a New York Post Articlewhich seems to have been the first medium in English to have picked up the claim.

“North Korea has offered to send 100,000 troops to reinforce Russian invasion attempt in UkraineRussian state television has stated,” the publication’s article states.

As evidence, he includes a short segment from a news program on Russia’s state TV channel, in which defense expert Igor Korotchenko says:

“There are reports that 100,000 North Korean volunteers are prepared to come and participate in the conflict.”

The expert also notes that the North Koreans can help in the “reconstruction” of Ukrainian cities and communities destroyed or damaged in the conflict, praising their “wealth of experience in counterattack warfare.”

Korotchenko does not cite the source for his claim, which he made in a broadcast on Thursday, August 4, and there does not appear to be any public announcement from Moscow or Pyongyang to back it up.

While some Russian outlets have repeated their claims after they were picked up by national and international media, the only previous mention of such an “offer” and the figure of “100,000” appears in a report by the Russian news agency REGNUMthat EU has accused of spreading “aggressive and biased propaganda narratives against Ukraine, and of promoting a positive attitude towards the annexation of Crimea and the actions of separatists in Donbas”.

the Articledated August 2, quotes a Russian parliamentarian, who referred to North Korea’s “offer” of aid in a speech in the Duma.

“I think this, without exaggeration, is a historic moment! Both in the founding of the liberated republics of Donbas and in strengthening our relationship with North Korea!” Sergei Mironov, a parliamentarian from the opposition party, was quoted as saying.

The article then goes on to state that “North Korea signaled through diplomatic channels its willingness to support the defense of the Luhansk (LPR) and Donetsk (DPR) republics,” including a “willingness to send up to 100,000 of its soldiers to the Donbas, as well as closer trade ties with Russia.

“Pyongyang can send its tactical units to the Donbas; in exchange, it will receive grain and energy exports from the Republics”, he concludes, without specifying how the authors agreed to the alleged diplomatic exchanges.

Similar unverified claims have also surfaced over the past week on anonymous pro-Kremlin Telegram channels, including one called “The Kremlin Laundry,” which similarly said that “diplomatic cablesof North Korea indicate that it is prepared to “assist the Republics with a military force composed of volunteers”, including the delivery of “100,000 strong combat battalions, as well as special tactical units”.

Neither the REGNUM report nor the anonymous Telegram channels provided any evidence for these claims. But in an example of how information laundering can occur, these unsubstantiated claims spread quickly and were amplified online by some Western media outlets, who shared them without proper source or verification.

Korotchenko himself was later interviewed by a Russian newspaper. MK. The repeated the statement in the interviewbut with some caveats.

“North Korea continues to show real support for Russia in conducting a special military operation,” he said. “Let me remind you that he was one of the first to diplomatically recognize the sovereignty of the DPR and LPR, and has provided them with moral support ever since. It can be absolutely said that they are ready for this kind of hostilities. In general, the North Korean military has the highest morale and the same high efficiency.”

“As for Kim Jong-un’s offers of help, they are all in line with broader support for Russia,” the expert continued.

“And if we accept this proposal, then the DPRK will definitely send its people, there is no doubt about it. But the question of political expediency arises here. Will such a decision be made? It is difficult for me to answer this question,” Korotchenko concluded.

As a close ally of Russia, North Korea has expressed support for its actions in Ukraine, and was even one of two nations (along with Syria) to recognize the independence of the illegally occupied Donbas republics.

There have also been reports, based on a claim of the Russian ambassador in PyongyangAlexander Matsegora, that North Korean workers may be tasked with helping “rebuild eastern Ukraine.”

However, official Pyongyang has not made any public statement about sending or preparing to send “volunteer” troops or units to fight alongside the Russians. Neither Russian nor North Korean government officials have recorded any such plans or agreements.

news week has reached out to the North Korean embassy in Russia and the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

failure

Fact Check: Mostly False

no evidence

The claim that North Korea has sent or plans to send up to 100,000 “volunteer” soldiers to fight alongside the Russians in Ukraine appears to be mere speculation by a Russian TV pundit and a Russian opposition party parliamentarian, which was amplified. by the state media. and anonymous Telegram channels. While the North Korean leadership has made progress in closer economic and military ties with Moscow, it has not made any public announcements suggesting that the deployment of its troops to Ukraine is imminent.

NEWSWEEK FACT CHECK

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