Russia has fired North Korean missiles at Ukraine for first time, Kyiv official confirms

Russia has hit Ukraine with missiles supplied by North Korea for the first time during its invasion, a senior Kyiv official said on Friday, corroborating an earlier assertion by the US White House.

The statement on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, came after the governor of the northeastern region of Kharkiv said his region had been struck by missiles fired by Russia that were not Russian-made.

“There is no longer any disguise … as part of its outright genocidal war, the Russian Federation for the first time struck at the territory of Ukraine with missiles received from … North Korea,” the senior Kyiv official, Mykhailo Podolyak, said.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak. Photo: AP

Podolyak did not provide evidence for the missiles being North Korean. In its statement on Thursday, Washington cited declassified intelligence.

“[Russia] is attacking Ukrainians with missiles received from a state where citizens are tortured in concentration camps for having an unregistered radio, talking to a tourist, watching television shows,” Podolyak said.

The Kremlin did not respond to a request for comment on the United States’ assertion that Russia had fired North Korean-supplied short-range ballistic missiles at Ukraine.

Earlier on Friday, the Kharkiv regional governor said missiles produced outside Russia had been fired into the province at the end of December and the beginning of January.

A Reuters video operator filmed the aftermath of a Russian air strike on the regional capital of Kharkiv on January 2, in which a missile landed close to the city centre, leaving behind a deep crater and missile debris.

Russia used North Korean missiles for Ukraine attacks, US says

Shown the Reuters footage for review, Joost Oliemans, a Dutch researcher and expert on North Korea’s military, said the missile remnants looked like they were from North Korea.

“It (the footage) appears to show the main body as well as the engine section of a missile that is pretty much a dead match for a North Korean type of missile that we’ve actually seen pretty clear photos of in the past few years,” he said.

Kharkiv regional prosecutors said they were conducting an investigation into the country of origin of three missiles used by Russia to hit the provincial capital on Tuesday. Their statement did not name North Korea.

That attack on Kharkiv city killed two people and wounded 62, the prosecutor’s office said.

Ukraine’s air force said earlier on Friday it could not yet confirm the country of manufacture of the missiles in question.

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While the United States would not say specifically what type of missiles Pyongyang had sent to Russia, White House spokesman John Kirby said they had a range of about 900km (550 miles). He released a graphic that appeared to show KN-23 and KN-25 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs).

North Korea has been under a United Nations arms embargo since it first tested a nuclear bomb in 2006.

UN Security Council resolutions – approved with Russian support – ban countries from trading weapons or other military equipment with North Korea.

In November, South Korean authorities said North Korea may have supplied SRBMs to Russia as part of a larger arms deal that also included anti-tank and anti-air missiles, artillery and mortar shells, and rifles.

Both Moscow and Pyongyang have previously denied conducting any arms deals, but vowed last year to deepen military relations.

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