The United States expressed concern Wednesday that Russia is nearing a deal to buy arms from North Korea to help bolster its war against Ukraine.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the U.S. believes that arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea are actively advancing.
He said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently traveled to North Korea to try to persuade Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Russia.
In addition, Kirby said Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had exchanged letters pledging to increase their bilateral cooperation and that the U.S. had intelligence that indicated another group of Russian officials had traveled to Pyongyang after the defense minister's visit.
There has been no immediate comment on the matter from Pyongyang or Moscow.
In addition to Russia buying North Korean arms, Kirby said the deals also could include raw materials that would help Russia's defense industrial base.
The U.S. national security spokesman said any arms deals between Russia and North Korea would violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Kirby said the U.S. is urging North Korea "to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia."
Meanwhile, provocations on the Korean peninsula continue unabated.
South Korea said Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile toward North Korea's eastern waters hours after the U.S. flew at least one long-range B1-B aircraft over the Korean Peninsula as a show of force during its annual military drills with Seoul.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says the North Korean missile launch occurred Wednesday but gave no further details, such as how far the missile flew.
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the U.S "tracking the lated report of a missile" and added that North Korea "should refrain from provocative behavior and accept one of the many invites for dialogue."
North Korea's state media earlier this week said the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, called for the military to be constantly ready for combat. North Korea has long viewed the annual U.S.-South Korean military drills as a rehearsal for an invasion.
The B-1B flyover was the tenth by U.S. bombers on the Korean Peninsula this year. South Korea said the bomber took part in aerial drills with other U.S. and South Korean warplanes in waters off the Korean Peninsula's west coast.
VOA's Margaret Besheer contributed to this report. Some material came from Reuters and The Associated Press