North Korea soldiers in Ukraine would be logistical ‘mess’ Putin won’t ‘allow’: Russia expert

North Korea soldiers in Ukraine would be logistical 'mess' Putin won't 'allow': Russia expert

Climbing Russian casualties and reports suggesting that Russia is now looking to North Korea to aid its flagging troops raised eyebrows this week as some began to question whether Moscow would drag Pyongyang into its war in Ukraine.

Russia expert and former intelligence officer in Russian doctrine and strategy for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Rebekah Koffler, threw cold water on these claims and said they were “implausible.”

“The Russian propaganda machine could say that 100,000 North Korean volunteers would fight on behalf of Russia, just to scare the West, but in reality, it’s disinformation,” she said in answer to questions from Fox News Digital.

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Reports claiming that North Korea may send up to 100,000 soldiers to aid Russia’s campaign in Ukraine began to circulate on Western and Russian news sites this week after the pro-Kremlin Regnum News Agency released an article earlier this month suggesting as much.

The article dated Aug. 2 said that “North Korea, through diplomatic channels, made it clear that it is ready to help the LPR [Luhansk People’s Republic] and DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] in strengthening defense[s]” and “is ready to transfer up to 100,000 of its soldiers.”

“Pyongyang will be able to transfer its tactical units to the Donbas,” the article continued.

The report never detailed whether the news outlet obtained the “diplomatic channels” referenced in the report but instead pointed to comments made by a Russian member of parliament who championed Pyongyang’s alleged willingness to help.

North Korea in March backed Russia when it joined it and three other nations in voting against a United Nations General Assembly resolution that condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

But Koffler said Pyongyang’s support for Russian President Vladimir Putin does not mean the Kremlin chief would actually allow North Korea to send ground forces into Ukraine.

“Putin will never accept — it’s implausible,” she said. “Just think about the sheer scale of it.”

North Korean soldiers march and shout slogans during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country's founding father, Kim Il-sung, in Pyongyang, North Korea, on April 15, 2017. <span class="copyright">Reuters/Damir Sagolj</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/8rdDP53KLJysYHghA6OGhw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ3MA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/mx9v2JbROSYlThZdRCS6lQ–~B/aD0xMjgwO3c9MTkyMDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/fox_news_text_979/18f5e2e2569d90aae38f5898b96f02af”/><noscript><img alt=Reuters/Damir Sagolj” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/8rdDP53KLJysYHghA6OGhw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ3MA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/mx9v2JbROSYlThZdRCS6lQ–~B/aD0xMjgwO3c9MTkyMDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/fox_news_text_979/18f5e2e2569d90aae38f5898b96f02af” class=”caas-img”/>

North Korean soldiers march and shout slogans during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s founding father, Kim Il-sung, in Pyongyang, North Korea, on April 15, 2017. Reuters/Damir Sagolj

Apart from the fact that Russia and North Korea have not held joint combat training and Pyongyang hasn’t even seen active combat in decades, the logistics of such an alliance would prove tricky.

“The command-and-control aspect of it is impossible. They do not speak Russian,” Koffler said in reference to the average North Korean soldier. “How are they going to use Russian weapons systems?”

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“It would make more of a mess than it would help,” she added.

As Russian causalities in Ukraine continue to climb and Moscow continues to increase joint military drills with neighboring Belarus, some have become concerned Putin may add to his fighting force with the help of Minsk.

But Koffler said North Korea does not pose the same threat to the war in Ukraine that Belarus does.

“Remember, Belarussians, Chechens, Buryats, anyone from the former Soviet Union speaks Russian,” she said. “They are more integrated. Not only do they have the same, what we call tactics, techniques and procedures, but doctrinally they are on the same page [in their] war-fighting doctrine.”

Koffler said it is more likely that North Koreans could be used to assist Russia with its rebuilding efforts in eastern Ukraine if Moscow is successful in holding off Kyiv from retaking occupied territory.

A soldier salutes from atop an armored vehicle during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country's founding father, Kim Il-sung, in Pyongyang, on April 15, 2017. <span class="copyright">Reuters/Damir Sagolj</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/NS8gUak0fSP8SqsQG3QtLg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ3MA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/7TQj9PCz9G0AjXwwJKW_Ag–~B/aD0xMjgwO3c9MTkyMDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/fox_news_text_979/78fe23ce1318722e071a245f9b6360d8″/><noscript><img alt=Reuters/Damir Sagolj” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/NS8gUak0fSP8SqsQG3QtLg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ3MA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/7TQj9PCz9G0AjXwwJKW_Ag–~B/aD0xMjgwO3c9MTkyMDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/fox_news_text_979/78fe23ce1318722e071a245f9b6360d8″ class=”caas-img”/>

A soldier salutes from atop an armored vehicle during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s founding father, Kim Il-sung, in Pyongyang, on April 15, 2017. Reuters/Damir Sagolj

The Russia expert also suggested Moscow could be looking to Pyongyang to assist its forces with more advanced weaponry like the KN-25 — which outranges the US HIMARS — in the wake of Western arms supplies to Ukraine.

“That is the real value added from North Korea that Putin would approve and is plausible,” Koffler said.

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