Which Weapons Could North Korea Sell to Russia?

Wes O'Donnell
5 min readSep 12
North Korean armored vehicles in a DPRK Victory Day Parade. CC BY 2.0 Uri Tours

As you have likely heard, North Korea’s ‘hermit-in-chief’ Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia today — no doubt having traveled there in his armored mystery train.

Kim traveled to Moscow to discuss “trade and economic issues.”

But unlike Kim and Putin’s previous meeting four years ago, which was mostly for diplomatic show, there is a very real need for both leaders to secure a new era of cooperation: Kim needs grain and Putin needs weapons and ammo.

On that front, North Korea has one of the world’s largest arsenals of weapon systems and ammunition.

So far, Iran has been the only country to donate sizable military aid to Russia for their Ukrainian folly.

This might soon change.

In exchange for North Korean weapons, Kim would like Russia to provide advanced technology for satellites and submarines, as well as grain.

Russia is estimated to use 10,000 to 15,000 artillery shells per day in Ukraine. In fact, persistent ammo shortages have led Russia to change their artillery doctrine — actually making them more lethal — by forcing them to carefully pick out targets. Welcome to the 21st Century comrades.

These shortages not only affect artillery ammo but small arms as well. It was the rerouting of small arms ammunition that widened the rift between Wagner and the regular Russian military around Bakhmut.

Russian armored vehicles are also quickly becoming sparse as Ukraine has proven extremely adept at killing Russian tanks.

Let’s look at North Korea’s military capability and what weapon systems Putin may ask for that might soon show up on Ukrainian battlefields.

North Korea is one of the most militarized countries in the world and remains a critical security challenge for the U.S. In recent years, Kim has implemented a rapid, ambitious nuclear program that has seen the creation of ballistic missiles that can reach South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

But perhaps just as dangerous as Kim’s growing nuclear program is his conventional military power.

North Korea’s conventional military consists of ground, air, naval, and special operations forces…

Wes O'Donnell

Army & Air Force Veteran | Global Security Wonk for War is Boring, GEN, OneZero, Soldier of Fortune | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | Founder of Warrior Lodge