Up to 100,000 North Korean soldiers could be sent to bolster Vladimir Putin’s forces fighting Ukraine, according to Russian reports. A leading defence expert in Moscow, reserve colonel Igor Korotchenko, told state TV: “We shouldn’t be shy in accepting the hand extended to us by Kim Jong-un.”

North Korea has made it clear through “diplomatic channels” that as well as providing builders to repair war damage, it is ready to supply a vast fighting force, reported Regnum news agency.

They would be deployed to the forces of the separatist pro-Putin Donetsk People’s Republic [DPR] and Luhansk People’s Republic [LPR], both of which Kim has recently recognized as independent countries.


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“The country is ready to transfer up to 100,000 of its soldiers to Donbas,” said the report by the pro-Kremlin news agency. “Pyongyang will be able to transfer its tactical units to Donbas.” In return, grain and energy would be supplied to Kim’s stricken economy.

The claim was seized on by Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of Russia’s National Defence journal on Rossiya 1 channel, who said: “There are reports that 100,000 North Korean volunteers are prepared to come and take part in the conflict.”

He was challenged on whether they could be volunteers from North Korea where total obedience is required. But he said North Korean people were “resilient and undemanding” and “the most important thing is they are motivated”. He told viewers: “We shouldn’t be shy in accepting the hand extended to us by Kim Jung-un….

“If North Korean volunteers with their artillery systems, wealth of experience with counter-battery warfare and large calibre multiple launch rocket systems, made in North Korea, want to participate in the conflict, well let’s give the green light to their volunteer impulse.” He said: “If North Korea expresses a desire to meet its international duty to fight against Ukrainian fascism, we should let them.”

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