U.S. Accuses Russia of Using North Korean Ballistic Missiles
The White House accused Russia on Wednesday of acquiring ballistic missiles and launchers from North Korea and using them to strike civilian targets in Ukraine. The attacks marked an escalation in Russian aggression that drew international condemnation.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby revealed evidence indicating North Korea recently sent a “significant number” of missiles and launchers to Russia in support of its invasion. Russia then used these weapons in a series of “brutal” strikes against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure over the New Year’s holiday that caused widespread blackouts.
Calling North Korean support “a serious escalation,” Kirby warned it demonstrates Russia’s desperation as its military struggles. Russia continues pursuing ways to “kill more innocent Ukrainian civilians” and damage infrastructure as winter sets in, he said.
The U.K. similarly accused Russia of resorting to North Korea due to the poor performance of its own weapons. Ukraine reported multiple Russian missile attacks this week, including one that killed three civilians in Kyiv.
Missile Strikes Strain Ukraine’s Defenses
The latest Russian missile attacks utilized a combination of Iranian drones, cruise missiles and now North Korean ballistic missiles to target Ukraine’s energy facilities. These weapons are harder for Ukraine to intercept compared to previous kinds employed.
At least 120 missiles were recorded on New Year’s Eve alone, indicating the increased scale and intensity of strikes. Officials said the attacks left almost half of the Ukrainian energy system disabled or damaged at a critical time, spurring heating and electricity problems.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pointed to the North Korean missile launches as proof of the need for faster Western military aid and more sanctions pressure on Russia. Without extra defensive equipment, Ukraine is “simply not able to shoot down all the missiles,” an advisor to Zelenskyy acknowledged Wednesday following the chaotic strikes.
|Type of Russian Strike
|Success Rate Against
|Ballistic missiles (North Korean)
Table showing high success rate of latest Russian ballistic missile attacks on Ukraine based on Ukrainian reports
Russia Reportedly Planning Further Arms Deals
Looking forward, the White House warned on Wednesday that U.S. intelligence reveals Russia intends to purchase additional Iranian short-range ballistic missiles for use on the battlefield.
Citing U.S. intelligence findings, national security spokesman Kirby said Russia is offering Iran “an unprecedented level of military and technical support.” The extent of Iran and North Korea’s involvement suggests Russia’s weapons stocks are dwindling under the strain of war, limiting its capabilities for the months ahead without further imports.
Separately, an unnamed intelligence official told the media Russia recently paid $1 billion for more North Korean rockets and artillery shells under a secret new military cooperation pact. Analysts predict ongoing Russian dependency on black market weapons deals with heavily sanctioned states due to supply shortfalls and financial constraints.
International Community Criticizes Escalatory Moves
Leaders around the world widely reproached Russia’s resort to North Korean ballistic missiles and potential new deals with Iran as a dangerous shift. They portrayed it as an admission that 10 months into its invasion, Russia is incapable of securing its own conventional weapons.
South Korea worried cooperation to arm Russia undermines international sanctions meant to restrain North Korea’s military ambitions. Japan similarly warned working with Russia to evade sanctions has “significant implications” for security.
The White House confirmed it is closely monitoring Russia’s pursuit of arms from Iran and North Korea. While not directly intervening militarily, NATO secretary Jens Stoltenberg pledged the alliance “will continue supporting Ukraine.”
Many experts argued Russia’s willingness to further defy international law by collaborating with rogue states requires harsher punishments. Calls mounted for increased military assistance to Ukraine alongside tighter restrictions on Russia’s economy and trade meant to cut off its ability to wage war.
With Russia’s aggression showing no signs of abating as the war’s first anniversary nears, the missiles provided by North Korea introduced a volatile new element. Analysts say the stage is set for an even more deadly phase of fighting in Ukraine.
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