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White House: Russia is using North Korean ballistic missiles in Ukraine

Washington believes that Moscow is also trying to obtain missiles from Iran to replenish its stock of armaments for the war

Guerra de Rusia en Ucrania
Ukrainian volunteers remove debris from a building hit in Kyiv by missiles launched by Russia last Tuesday.SERGEY DOLZHENKO (EFE)

Russia has used North Korean short-range ballistic missiles in Ukraine and is also trying to get its hands on Iranian ballistic weapons, the White House said Thursday. In a press conference, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that this points to Moscow’s difficulties in replenishing the munitions it has expended in its invasion of the eastern European country.

According to Kirby, declassified data from the U.S. intelligence services reveal that North Korea has delivered ballistic missile launchers to Russia and several rockets, with a range of 900 kilometers (560 miles). One of these was launched against the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine on December 30, and on January 2, Russian forces fired several during a large-scale night attack.

Kirby also indicated that Russia is negotiating with Iran to try to obtain missiles from Tehran. The talks have not yet been concluded but Washington believes that Russian negotiations to acquire short-range ballistic missiles “are actively advancing.” The U.S. believes that Iran has already delivered drones to Moscow for use in Ukraine.

Washington maintains that Russia and North Korea reached an arms supply agreement last year, in negotiations that included a July visit to Pyongyang by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. A trip to Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific coast by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet with Vladimir Putin on September 13 may also have been part of the negotiations. As part of the agreement, North Korea sent a thousand containers of ammunition and weapons to its neighbor and ally.

In November, the South Korean military disclosed suspicions that the North had shipped short-range ballistic missiles, anti-tank missiles, and man-portable anti-aircraft missiles to Russia. These arms deliveries also included rifles, rocket launchers, mortars, and ammunition.

In return, according to U.S. intelligence, the Pyongyang regime wants Russian military assistance, “including fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment or materiel, and other advanced technologies.”

The use of North Korean missiles, according to Kirby, represents a “significant and concerning” escalation in the collaboration between Moscow and Pyongyang. “We anticipate that Russia will use additional North Korean missiles to target Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and to kill innocent Ukrainian civilians,” said the senior White House official, who warned that closer cooperation between the two countries will bring “concerning security implications for the Korean Peninsula and the Indo-Pacific region.”

The missile shipment took place despite Washington’s warnings that such arms transfers between Pyongyang and Moscow violate numerous UN Security Council resolutions. The White House is considering imposing new sanctions against those who facilitate such arms transfers, the National Security Council spokesman said.

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