Jan 4, 2024 - World

Russia using missiles from North Korea to strike Ukraine, White House says

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) visit a construction site of the Angara rocket launch complex on September 13, 2023 in Tsiolkovsky, Russia. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in Russia for talks with Russian President Putin.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during their September meeting in Tsiolkovsky, Russia. Photo: Contributor/Getty Images

Russia's military has begun using multiple North Korean-supplied ballistic missiles to conduct a wave of strikes on Ukraine, the White House said on Thursday.

The big picture: National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters the U.S. would raise this "significant and concerning escalation" with the UN Security Council and warned American intelligence indicates the Kremlin plans to buy missiles from Iran.

  • U.S. intelligence officials have previously accused Pyongyang of supplying Moscow with weapons, but the BBC notes this is the first time U.S. intelligence has shared details about ballistic missiles.

State of play: U.S. intelligence information indicates that North Korea's military "recently provided Russia with ballistic missile launchers and several ballistic missiles," Kirby said, for Russian leader Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine.

  • "Russian forces launched at least one of these North Korean ballistic missiles into Ukraine" on Dec. 30 before using "multiple" more during aerial bombardment on Tuesday, according to Kirby.
  • Putin vowed Monday to "intensify the strikes" on Ukraine military targets after his forces bombarded the country with an unprecedented number of Iranian-made drones.
  • "The United States is concerned that Russian negotiations to acquire close-range ballistic missiles from Iran are actively advancing," Kirby said.
  • "We assess that Russia intends to purchase missile systems from Iran," added Kirby, who vowed the U.S. would impose further sanctions on anyone facilitating such weapons deals.

Between the lines: Russian and North Korean officials have denied conducting any weapons deals.

Go deeper... U.S.: North Korea "will pay a price" if it supplies arms to Russia

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