Faced with a severe shortage of military equipment in Ukraine, the Russian defense ministry is in the process of buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea, says a U.S. intelligence finding.

According to a newly declassified intelligence finding, reported by the New York Times, Moscow's intention to purchase shells and rockets from North Korea indicates that global sanctions have hampered its ability to maintain its military supply lines forcing it to turn to pariah states like Iran and North Korea.

Even as Ukraine continues to receive billions of dollars worth of western military equipment, Russia has pretty much been forced to rely on its own resources. The recent weeks have also seen Ukrainian forces, step up strikes on Russian ammunition depots using American High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). Low on military equipment, Russia is now scouring the world for weapons.

The recent passage of a sanctioned civilian cargo ship carrying the S-300 missile system from Syria through the Bosporus to the Black Sea showed Russian desperation to bring back its military hardware which is badly needed in Ukraine.

Iran had last week, sent its first shipment of military drones to Russia, seen to be part of a deepening plan between the two countries under which it has agreed to send hundreds of drones to use the weapons against Ukrainian forces.

Although the economic sanctions, as expected, have not crippled the Russian economy, which has benefitted from the soaring energy prices more than compensating for the loss in sales volume, the New York Times report points out, that Western sanctions have dented Russia's ability to ensure seamless military supplies due to its inability to procure military equipment, or electronics required to make military equipment.

Under pressure from the U.S., most countries are "treading carefully" in dealing with Russia. Although willing to buy discounted Russian oil, they have avoided dealing with the country's military. For instance, the U.S. had warned China that it would face, "devastating" action — be cut off from American equipment and software needed to make their products, — if Chinese companies defied Russian sanctions.

While the declassified report contains few details about the exact weaponry, timing or size of the shipment that Russia expects from North Korea, the report says it is expected to include short-range rockets and artillery shells, with additional equipment purchases in the future.

Russian efforts to buy even basic equipment such as rockets and artillery shells from North Korea, the New York Times report says, is a sign that Moscow's supply problems are likely deeper than just high-end components for cutting-edge tanks or precision missiles.

It indicates that Moscow is facing a shortage, or could see one in the future, that its industrial base is struggling to meet the military demands of the war, says the New York Times report.

North Korea has carried out a string of weapons tests this year under leader Kim Jong Un (C)
North Korea has carried out a string of weapons tests this year under leader Kim Jong Un (C) KCNA VIA KNS via AFP / STR