Russia fires North Korean-supplied missiles into Ukraine
Russia has reportedly employed ballistic missiles sourced from North Korea, in its attacks on Ukraine, according to John Kirby, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, during a press conference on January 4.
As Russia faces increased isolation amid the full-scale invasion and depletes its existing military supplies, it has turned to countries such as North Korea and Iran to replenish its arsenal.
Unnamed U.S. officials, as reported by the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, had earlier indicated that North Korea provided Russia with launchers and several dozen ballistic missiles. Kirby's statement is the first official acknowledgment of Russia deploying these missiles.
Kirby noted that a North Korean-supplied missile was launched into Ukraine on December 30, landing in an open field in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Additionally, on January 2, Russia utilized multiple North Korean missiles in an overnight mass attack on Ukraine, resulting in casualties.
Contrary to speculation that Russia was running out of missiles, it launched some of its most extensive missile attacks against Ukraine in late December and early January. The missiles provided by Pyongyang have a range of 900 kilometers, marking a significant escalation in North Korean support for Russia, according to Kirby.
"We expect Russia and North Korea to learn from these launches, and we anticipate Russia will use additional North Korean missiles to target Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and to kill innocent Ukrainian civilians," Kirby added.
The U.S. assessment suggests that in exchange for the ballistic missiles, North Korea is seeking fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment, and other advanced military technologies from Russia.
Confirming increased weapons and ammunition transfers from North Korea to Russia, Washington's statements align with South Korean intelligence reports claiming that North Korea has delivered more than a million shells to Russia following a meeting between Russian leader Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in September.
Russia plans to buy ballistic missiles from Iran
Russia is reportedly in the process of purchasing short-range ballistic missiles from Iran, with earlier acquisitions from North Korea already underway, according to the Wall Street Journal on January 4, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
Facing increased isolation since the onset of a full-scale invasion and depleting its existing military resources, Russia has sought assistance from other international outliers, such as North Korea and Iran to restock its supplies.
While U.S. officials noted that the deal with Iran had not been finalized, they suggested Russia could potentially receive the missiles in the spring of 2024. North Korea has already supplied Russia with launchers and several dozen ballistic missiles, a fact documented since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.
Iran has played a significant role in supporting Russia's military capabilities by providing Shahed-type attack drones and engaging in deals to purchase advanced Russian aircraft and helicopters.
Confirming an increase in weapons and ammunition transfers from North Korea to Russia, the U.S. has been monitoring the military ties between Russia and North Korea, highlighted by a meeting between Russian leader Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in September.
The growing collaboration between Russia, Iran, and North Korea has raised concerns in the West about a potential exchange of military technology. There is apprehension that Russia might support the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, both of which have sought to enhance their nuclear capabilities but have faced obstacles due to international sanctions.
Russia could potentially receive the missiles.
Ukrainian authorities deny reports of new Russian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast but do not rule out attacks on power system
The Telegraph reported on a possible major Russian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast in the near future, citing unnamed sources in Ukrainian intelligence. However, Ukrainian Ground Forces and Kharkiv Oblast authorities have dismissed these claims.
Volodymyr Fito, Head of the Public Relations Service of the Ground Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, labeled the report as "nonsense." He stated that the article had distorted the information and was not worthy of attention, emphasizing that there was nothing new in the story. Fito mentioned that The Telegraph was referring to "obscure military intelligence elements."
Oleh Syniehubov, Head of Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration, commented on the article, stating that no clusters of Russian forces had been recorded in different frontline areas in Kharkiv Oblast. While he acknowledged ongoing monitoring and readiness for any scenario, he emphasized that, at present, there is no cluster of troops indicating an imminent assault operation in the area. He added that the situation could change at any moment but stressed there were no reasonable grounds to believe in an immediate offensive.
However, Syniehubov acknowledged that Russia had not abandoned its plans to occupy Kharkiv Oblast. He stated, "We understand that the enemy has never abandoned its intentions to recapture the territories it lost during the liberation of Kharkiv in the autumn of 2022 and to occupy the city. We must be prepared for this."