Debris analysis shows Russia using North Korean missiles in Ukraine, US military says

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Pentagon intelligence agency says analysis of debris imagery confirms that Russia has fielded North Korean missiles in its war in Ukraine, according to a report summary released in an unclassified form on Thursday.

The conclusions of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) follow U.S. assertions that Russia received ballistic missiles and artillery rounds from North Korea after the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, met Russian President Vladimir Putin for a rare summit last September.

The DIA report showed different aspects North Korean solid-propellant short-range ballistic missiles, comparing images published by North Korean state media to others showing missile debris in Ukraine's Kharkiv region in January.

"Analysis confirms that Russia used ballistic missiles produced in North Korea in its war against Ukraine. North Korean missile debris was found throughout Ukraine," the DIA said in a statement accompanying the release of an unclassified summary of the report.

Russia's embassy in Washington and North Korea's mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied accusations that North Korea transferred weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine, which Russia invaded in February 2022.

Ukrainian state prosecutors said earlier in May they had examined debris from 21 of around 50 North Korean ballistic missiles launched by Russia between late December and late February, as they seek to assess the threat from Moscow's cooperation with Pyongyang.

North Korean missiles account for a tiny portion of Russia's strikes during its war on Ukraine, but their alleged use has caused alarm from Seoul to Washington because it may herald the end of the nearly two-decade consensus among permanent members of the United Nations Security Council on preventing Pyongyang from expanding its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

In addition to providing North Korea with an opportunity to test missiles, Russia has taken steps that will make it harder for the United Nations to monitor sanctions imposed on Pyongyang in 2006.

Last month, Moscow vetoed the annual renewal of the U.N. sanctions monitors - known as a panel of experts - that has for 15 years monitored enforcement of the U.N. sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea's official name.

Days before its mandate expired, the panel submitted a report confirming for the first time that, in a violation of U.N. sanctions, a North Korean-made ballistic missile known as Hwasong-11 had struck the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York and Josh Smith in Seoul; editing by Diane Craft)