Ukraine Situation Report: Army Of North Korean ‘Volunteers’ Said To Be Ready To Help Russia
Russian state TV floats a report that 100,000 North Koreans could backfill mounting losses and rebuild occupied territory.
A Russian talk show host claimed that 100,000 North Korean “volunteers” are ready to assist in Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
Russia Channel One talk show host Igor Korotchenko suggested Russia welcome the North Koreans’ help not only on the frontlines but also as workers. Pyongyang confirmed a plan to send laborers to rebuild occupied Ukraine, according to a report from NK News.
Estimates of Russian losses since the invasion began on February 24 vary, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claiming in a late-July speech some 40,000 Russians had died. By comparison, U.S. and British estimates put the number of dead near 15,000, with two to three times that wounded in the fighting, according to a report from The Economist.
This isn’t Pyongyang’s first move in backing Russia in its war with Ukraine. North Korea recognized the Russian-backed separatist governments in Donetsk and Luhansk in July, which led to Ukraine breaking off diplomatic relations with the Kim Regime.
Just how effective North Korean troops, workers, or whatever you want to call them, would be on the frontlines in Ukraine isn’t clear. What the Korean People’s Army (KPA) lacks in technology it makes up for in size and firepower, two things Russia could well put to use in a drawn-out war of attrition in Ukraine. They are also, in many instances, accustomed to working in relatively horrible conditions with minimal rights or resources, which makes deploying them to a war zone likely attractive to Moscow.
The idea that an army of North Koreans could end up in Ukraine on Russia's behalf is just another reminder of just how bizarre this conflict has become.
Before heading into today’s latest news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up with our previous rolling coverage here.
Today’s intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense noted that Russian forces are redeploying from the Donbas toward the Kherson frontline.
Whether those forces are meant for an offensive on the southern front after months of near-stalemate in the east or to shore up defenses in the face of an ongoing Ukrainian counterattack remains unclear.
That said, the situation at the Zaphorizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant near the Dnieper River city of Enerhodar continues to deteriorate as concerns about the plant being damaged in the fighting grow. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told the BBC he was "extremely concerned" by reports of shelling at the plant, with the Ukrainian government claims parts of the facility suffered serious damage in Russian strikes aimed at cutting off its ability to distribute power. There have also been reports of the plant being mined and weapons, as well as other volatile materiel, sitting very near sensitive nuclear infrastructure. In addition, Ukrainska Pravda reported on Saturday that Russian occupiers damaged the nitrogen-oxygen unit and an auxiliary building, raising the risk of radioactive leak and fire at the plant.
We wrote about the incredible footage from the war's early days, when the world watched a live stream of Russia's nighttime assault on the complex. Russia has since been accused of turning the nuclear plant into a firebase, using the risk of disaster to deter retaliatory Ukrainian attacks. The European Union has condemned Russian activities at the plant and called for renewed IAEA access.
You can read our past reporting on the precarious state of the plant, the largest in Europe, here, but needless to say, the crisis is getting worse based on today's reports.
We have a new up-close image of one of the radar decoy barges positioned near the Kerch Bridge that connects Crimea and mainland Russia. We wrote about the Russian effort to move countermeasures near the strategic link between Crimea and Russia in early July, which you can read about here. Smaller radar decoys have been set up near two critical bridges over the Dnieper River near Kherson, as well.
This week’s rumor mill on North Macedonian Su-25s being sent to Ukraine appears to be true after confirmation from a Ukrainian presidential adviser on Saturday. We wrote about the potential transfer and the Macedonian Frogfoots' peculiar absence from their storage area, which you can read about here.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Zelensky, tweeted veiled thanks to North Macedonia for “substituting a Ukrainian shoulder in the form of tanks and planes.” North Macedonia previously provided T-72s from its only tank unit to Ukraine.
Podolyak further said nations like North Macedonia “are showing more courage today than half of the G20.” Ukrainian Su-25s remain in the fight, with regular videos appearing of the attack jets flying at low altitudes and employing munitions.
Speaking of military aid to Ukraine, the next U.S. package could exceed $1 billion and include both GMLRS rockets for the M142 HIMARS and missiles for the NASAMS surface-to-air missile system, according to a report from Reuters. The package would reportedly further include 50 medical variants of the M113 armored personnel carrier.
HIMARS’ impact on the battlefield has gained cult status with strikes on high-value Russian targets. The U.S. recently began NASAMS procurement for Ukraine, with the delivery date still unknown.
We also got cool low-level footage of Ukrainian Mi-24 Hinds skimming the fields near the frontline, just try to fight the urge to duck your head in the first few seconds.
There's also a disturbing video from the front showing a Russian soldier on a suicide mission to destroy an anti-tank mine with a dump truck. The soldier screams "Honor to Russia" and drives right into the mine with predictable results.
Lastly, there’s an alarming report from Sofia Santos (@Gralhix) and Benjamin Pittet (@COUPSURE) for the Center for Information Resilience documenting the forced resettlement of Ukrainian refugees in Russia. The report goes into stunning detail of how Russia is handling those its war has displaced, from the point of capture through “filtration” and an uncertain future in a hostile country, and it’s well worth your read.
We will continue to update this story until we state otherwise.
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