On the Propaganda and Supply Fronts of the Russia-Ukraine War: North Korean Soldiers, Workers, and Munitions in the Donbas?


  • Avram Agov Langara College


In the past summer, there were reports about the possibility of North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK) providing 100,000 volunteers to fight with the Russian army in Ukraine as well as construction workers to help reconstruct war-torn areas in the Donbas. These reports, based on Russian sources, became fodder in the propaganda war in Ukraine and resonated in international media and the academic community. Western sources reported possible supply of North Korean munitions to the Russian army.
This paper will critically assess the three reports in the context of wartime dynamics and in the wider international context. The feasibility of sending North Korean troops, munitions, and workers to Russia will be viewed in light of the latest wartime developments in both Ukraine and Russia, including the retreat of the Russian army in some of the occupied areas, Russian partial mobilization and the annexation of four Ukrainian regions. The international context of evaluation includes the recent history of Russia-North Korea security and economic relations. The essay will argue that sending North Korean soldiers to Ukraine is out of the question, though the dispatch of North Korean workers has some degree of probability. The likeliest possibility is Russian procurement of North Korean munitions.