Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
- North Korea signaled interest last year in helping Russia rebuild occupied parts of eastern Ukraine.
- About 800 to 1,000 workers were recruited at the time, Daily NK previously reported.
- But as the war slogs on and its trajectory remains uncertain, North Korea delayed sending laborers.
North Korea delayed sending cheap laborers who can help Russia rebuild occupied regions of eastern Ukraine, according to Daily NK, revealing how even President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies remain skeptical about the war’s trajectory.
In September, North Korea’s ambassador signaled interest in sending construction workers to Russian-occupied territories, The Associated Press reported.
Those plans further materialized as North Korean officials recruited about 800 to 1,000 workers, with plans to send them by early November, according to Daily NK.
But with Russia’s war against Ukraine trudging into its 12th month, North Korea has held off from sending construction aid in “danger zone[s],” a source in North Korea told Daily NK.
“This is because they were going to rush the workers over if Russia quickly ended the war and expanded its liberated zones, but the war isn’t going as well as they thought,” he told the outlet.
The source said he believes workers will be deployed as the war comes to an end, but as of now the “situation isn’t good enough now to send them.”
“I think even our country [North Korea] can’t make its people run around a danger zone to earn money, no matter how important the cash is,” he said, according to Daily NK.
Support for Putin’s war — from his inner circle to some of his most powerful allies — has faltered since the invasion began last February.
One Russian billionaire in contact with high-ranking officials told The Washington Post in a December report how there’s “huge frustration among the people around him.”
“He clearly doesn’t know what to do,” he told The Post.
During a video conference with Putin in December, Xi Jinping reaffirmed his support for Russia but acknowledged the “complicated and quite controversial international situation.”
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis told MSNBC in January that Putin is “scrambling to gain manpower” as Russia is estimated to have suffered around 100,000 casualties.
“Putin will take anything. It’s a sign of how difficult this fight has become for him,” the former NATO commander said.