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June 1, 2018
Russia Uses North Korean Missiles Against Ukraine
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March 2024
By Kelsey Davenport

The United States accused Russia of launching North Korean ballistic missiles at Ukrainian targets and warned that Pyongyang will benefit from seeing how the missiles perform.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) are shown meeting in September in the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East region amid talk of a weapons deal. The United States recently accused Russia of launching North Korean ballistic missiles at Ukrainian targets. (Photo by Vladimir Smirnov/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)In a Jan. 4 press briefing, John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said that Russia attacked Ukraine using North Korean ballistic missiles with a range of about 900 kilometers on Dec. 30 and Jan. 2.

The White House said in October that North Korea transferred armaments to Russia in September in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, but it appears that the Dec. 30 attack was the first time Russia used North Korean ballistic missiles against Ukraine. (See ACT, November 2023.)

The United States and its partners will impose additional sanctions on entities that facilitate the transfers of weapons and will call public attention to the arms deals, Kirby said.

He did not reference a specific North Korean ballistic missile, but experts and Ukrainian officials say missile fragments suggest Russia is using the short-range Hwasong-11A. Ukraine also accused Russia of using two Hwasong-11A missiles in a Feb. 7 attack on Kharkiv.

At a UN Security Council meeting on Jan. 10, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia disputed the allegation and accused the United States of spreading “deliberately false information.”

During the meeting, South Korea, which joined the Security Council for a two-year term beginning in 2024, raised concerns about the knowledge North Korea will gain from providing the systems to Russia. Ambassador Hwang Joon-kook said the launches “provide valuable technical and military insights” and that Moscow’s use of the missiles will encourage Pyongyang to export missiles to other states to “rake in new revenue to further finance” its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Although the Security Council did not take action against Russia, more than 50 states signed a Jan. 9 statement condemning North Korea’s export of missiles to Russia. The states said the “transfer of these weapons increases the suffering of the Ukrainian people, supports Russia’s war of aggression, and undermines the global non-proliferation regime.”