By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States accused Russia on Tuesday of firing at least nine North Korean-supplied missiles at Ukraine, while Moscow labeled Washington a "direct accomplice" in the downing of a Russian military transport plane last month.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia and deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood traded the accusations at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine, requested by Moscow. Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine nearly two years ago.
"To date, Russia has launched DPRK-supplied ballistic missiles against Ukraine on at least nine occasions," Wood told the 15-member Security Council, using the North Korea's formal name: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
"Russia and the DPRK must be held accountable for their actions, which undermine long-standing obligations under UN Security Council resolutions," he said.
Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied the U.S. accusations, but vowed last year to deepen military relations. Russia has stepped up ties with North Korea and other countries hostile to the United States such as Iran since the start of the war with Ukraine - relations that are a source of concern to the West.
A Russian Air Force Il-76 fell from the skies on Jan. 24. Russia said all 74 people on board, including 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers en route to be swapped for Russian prisoners of war, were killed, and blamed Kyiv for downing the plane.
"We possess irrefutable evidence that a Patriot surface-to-air missile was used to carry out the strike, which leaves no doubt the Washington is a direct accomplice in this crime as well," Nebenzia told the Security Council.
Russian investigators said last week that they had evidence showing that Ukraine's military shot down the military transport plane with U.S.-made Patriot surface-to-air missiles.
Russia asked the council to meet on Tuesday after it said Ukraine killed at least 28 people when it used Western-supplied rockets to strike a bakery and restaurant on Saturday in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine.
Senior Ukrainian U.N. diplomat Serhii Dvornyk accused Russia of misusing the Security Council "for disseminating fakes."
Wood said the U.S. was unable to independently verify the information - blaming an absence of independent media reporting - but laments all civilian casualties. He added: "To be clear, Russia is the only aggressor in this war, and the only one that could end this war today."
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; additional reporting by Ronald Popeski; editing by Jonathan Oatis)