- Ukrainian forces are using North Korean-made rockets against Russian forces, the FT reported.
- It is unclear how Ukrainian soldiers obtained the weapons, but one said they were “very unreliable”.
- North Korea is an ally of Russia and has sold them weapons, according to US officials.
While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war effort, weapons produced in his country have apparently been turned against Russian forces.
Financial Times reported on Friday that Ukraine has launched erratic, North Korean-made rockets at Russian troops. Ukrainian soldiers manning multiple launch rocket systems near Bakhmut showed the weapons to the outlet.
A Ukrainian artillery commander told the FT that his troops do not like using the weapons, which were made in the 1980s and 90s, because they can often misfire or fail to explode. One soldier said: “They are very unreliable and sometimes do crazy things.”
The use of North Korean weapons was striking, as the country is an ally of Russia. Putin Thursday thanked North Korea for its “firm support” for the war in Ukraine. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also visited Pyongyang this week to meet with Kim as the country commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
Last year, US intelligence officials said Pyongyang was sells millions of artillery shells and rockets to Russia after sanctions cut off the Kremlin from its typical military supply lines. And in March, the White House said it had evidence that North Korea was again supplying Russia with weapons, this time in exchange for food.
“As part of this proposed deal, Russia will receive over two dozen types of weapons and ammunition from Pyongyang,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said at the time.
Ukrainian soldiers told the FT that a “friendly” country “seized” the North Korean missiles from a ship, but gave no further details. A Ukrainian defense official said the weapons may have been taken directly from Russian troops.
“We capture their tanks, we capture their equipment, and it is very possible that this is also the result of the Ukrainian army successfully conducting a military operation,” Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, told the FT, adding : “Russia has been shopping around for different types of munitions in all kinds of tyrannies, including North Korea and Iran.”
In addition to North Korea, Western officials have said Russia has received weapons from Iran. Politico reported this week that China has also sent military equipment to Russia, including drones and protective equipment, and relies on a loophole to bypass Western sanctions.
Ukraine has also relied on weapons from several different countries in the war, including Soviet-era weapons and weapons supplied by the West, including the United States, Britain, Germany and Spain.
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