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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Ukraine Uses North Korean Rockets to Blast Russian Forces

Kyiv has been using unpredictable, North Korean-made rockets to blast Russian forces, the Financial Times reported on Friday. The paper said Ukrainian soldiers handling Soviet-era Grad multiple-launch rocket systems near the war-torn town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine showed the weapons to the newspaper. The Financial Times also spoke to an expert who suggested that the weapons could have been seized from the Russians, noting that Russia’s state-run rocket factory, Yuzhmash, is near the fighting.

The White House on Thursday slammed North Korea for supporting the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, accusing Pyongyang of supplying battlefield missiles and rockets to Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. US National Security Adviser John Kirby said North Korea had shipped arms to the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which he says has grown from 1,000 to 20,000 fighters as the conflict in Ukraine has drawn on into its second year.

“North Korean officials have said publicly that they would not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, yet here we are with them delivering arms to Wagner, in direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Kirby said. He added that the Pentagon plans to raise the issue with Russia’s government.

In his remarks, Kirby alleged that the North Koreans are providing arms to Russia because Moscow is running out of its weaponry in the 301-day-old war and because of the US and Western export controls that prevent Russia from obtaining modern technology. He also warned that the United States will continue its security support of Ukraine, even if it adapts to new challenges and changing battlefield dynamics, the White House said.

Earlier this week, the United States released satellite imagery that shows Russian railcars leaving a North Korean port and then returning to Russia with containers of weaponry. The United States has not offered proof that the shipment was indeed from the North to Russia, and the North has denied sending arms to Putin’s war effort in Ukraine.

The White House says the shipments violate UN Security Council resolutions and is considering further sanctions against the mercenary group. It is also planning to announce sanctions against the companies that provide the Wagner fighters with their equipment. On Saturday, a pro-Russia official in the southern city of Kherson died after a car bomb exploded, the pro-Moscow local administration in the region said. The explosion was the latest in a series of attacks that have left buildings reduced to frames and ash and killed dozens of people. Ukraine has made some progress in driving back Russian troops, the commander on its southern front has said, despite tight Russian defenses. However, the number of civilians killed and wounded in attacks has risen. Kyiv has promised to bring the conflict to an end by January. The conflict is a severe escalation affecting global trade, experts say. In response, the North has ramped up its weapons testing and a series of missile launches in recent weeks.

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