The United States said Wednesday that Russia is in talks with North Korea to acquire weapons from the Asian country to use in the war in Ukraine, an allegation a U.S.-led group of U.N. members said would constitute a violation of Security Council resolutions.
"We have new information...that arms negotiations between Russia and the DPRK are actively advancing," White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters in an online briefing, referring to the formal name of North Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have exchanged letters "pledging to increase their bilateral cooperation" since a recent visit by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Pyongyang, Kirby said.
"Any arms deal between the DPRK and Russia would directly violate a number of U.N. Security Council resolutions," he said.
The United States, Japan, South Korea and Britain said that "Russia is negotiating potential deals for significant quantities and multiple types of munitions from the DPRK to be used against Ukraine" in a joint statement released by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
The statement also urged North Korea to "cease its arms negotiations with Russia" because the Asian country has said publicly on numerous occasions that it will not sell arms to Russia.
The move came after Shoigu attended a military parade in Pyongyang in July commemorating the 70th anniversary of the signing of a cease-fire for the Korean War.
"It is shameful that the Russian Federation -- a permanent member of the Security Council -- participated in a celebration of the DPRK's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons delivery systems," the statement said.
Along with the alleged weapons deals with North Korea, the statement said Russia has procured drones from Iran in defiance of a Security Council resolution and used the drones in attacks on Ukraine.
It went on to call Russia's pattern of behavior "unacceptable," accusing Moscow of "flouting its responsibilities as a member of the Security Council" and propping up regimes engaged in nuclear proliferation.
Following Shoigu's visit to Pyongyang, another group of Russian officials traveled to the North Korean capital for discussions about potential arms deals, Kirby said, noting that high-level discussions may continue in the coming months.
"In its pursuit of these weapons, Russia will violate Security Council resolutions, including resolutions Russia itself voted for," Thomas-Greenfield said during a briefing at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Kimihiro Ishikane, the U.N. ambassador from Japan, said it is important to be clear that any arms deal between North Korea and Russia would be unacceptable. "It should be a matter involving Ukraine as well as nuclear nonproliferation," he said.
North Korean media reported on Aug. 15 that Putin and Kim exchanged congratulatory telegrams to mark the 78th anniversary of the end of Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.