Debris analysis proves Russia used North Korean missiles in Kharkiv: US military report

Ukraine has also reported finding North Korean-made missile wreckage

AP05_31_2024_000010A This undated photo provided on Friday, May 31, 2024 by the North Korean government, shows what it says firing drills at an undisclosed place in North Korea | AP

Russia did use North Korean missiles in Ukraine, according to a report by a Pentagon intelligence agency. A report by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said the analysis of debris imagery confirmed that Kremlin had been using ballistic missiles and artillery rounds made in North Korea in Ukrainian territory.

The report reasserts US findings that Russia received ammunition from North Korea after the country's leader Kim Jong Un, met Russian  President Vladimir Putin last September.

The DIA report showed different aspects of North Korean solid-propellant short-range ballistic missiles in the missile debris found in Ukraine's Kharkiv region, according to Reuters. The wreckage was compared with the images published by North Korean state media.

"Analysis confirms that Russia used ballistic missiles produced in North Korea in its war against Ukraine. North Korean missile debris was found throughout Ukraine," the DIA said in a statement accompanying the release of an unclassified summary of the report.

Not just the US, but even Ukrainian state prosecutors have said that they examined debris from 21 of around 50 North Korean ballistic missiles launched by Russia between late December and late February. The Ukrainian military says the North Korean missiles have killed at least 24 people and injured more than 70.

According to Conflict Armament Research (CAR), an organisation that retrieves weapons used in the Ukraine war, the wreckage of a missile that landed in Ukraine, estimated to be made in Korea, revealed the latest foreign technology. While most of the electronic parts had been manufactured in the US and Europe over the past few years, it also had a US computer chip made as recently as March 2023.  This showed that the country, despite all the sanctions imposed on it, had been procuring vital weapon components illegally. 

However, Russia and North Korea have denied arms deals, which would violate U.N. embargoes on Pyongyang, but have vowed to deepen cooperation in all sectors.

This comes as North Korea said on Friday it had fired 18 short-range ballistic missiles during a drill, which South Korea said was a possible display for would-be weapons buyers, including Russia.  Photos released by state media showed Kim watching from a distance at least 18 projectiles soaring after being fired from launch trucks.

However, Pyongyang claimed the drill was a demonstration of its willingness to launch a pre-emptive strike against South Korea's "gangsters' regime" if necessary to counter an attack. 

Experts say North Korea's large-sized artillery rockets blur the boundaries between artillery systems and short-range ballistic missiles because they can create their thrust and are guided during delivery. 

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