During six months of war in Ukraine there have been some instances of Russian satellite states providing “volunteer” forces – with Chechens being a foremost reported group of foreign fighters said to be in Ukraine. But Russian state media recently presented the biggest offer of foreign troops yet, reportedly from an unlikely “pariah” nation also long at odds with the United States.
North Korea has said it is willing to send 100,000 “volunteer” troops to help Vladimir Putin execute the ongoing war in Ukraine, Business Insider has reported, citing Channel One Russia. Russian military pundit Igor Korotchenko made the claim to the state broadcaster, saying further that the DPRK military could provide a “wealth of experience with counter-battery warfare.”
“If North Korea expresses a desire to meet its international duty to fight against Ukrainian fascism, we should let them,” Korotchenko was also quoted in New York Post as saying.
This comes amid unverified Western media claims that Russia has suffered huge and unexpected numbers of casualties, to the point of being “desperate” – and reportedly being forced to provide abbreviated and ineffective training to new recruits.
For example, this is how The Daily Mail presented the supposed Moscow-Pyongyang deal making for additional troops:
A desperate Vladimir Putin is considering turning to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for help in his invasion of Ukraine, and is willing to offer energy and grain in return for 100,000 soldiers, according to reports in Russia.
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 in an attempt to tip the balance in Moscow’s favor, 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 recognised as independent countries.
…In return, grain and energy would be supplied to Kim’s stricken economy.
The far-fetched sounding reports don’t appear to be sourced at all to North Korean state media itself, however, and the logistical challenge of North Korea actually transporting that many troops to Donbas would make it very unlikely. The “offer” may have been based on mere speculation by the prominent Russian pundit.
The additional challenge to such an immense logistical task – which would also without doubt result in greater ratcheting of sanctions on both countries by the West – would include integrating that many foreign troops within Russian strategy and alongside its units in the middle of an active war, with no prior planning and coordination.