Russia hits Ukraine with North Korean missiles, seeks Iran help as US runs out of aid funds

WASHINGTON – As the US runs out of money to supply Ukraine with more military aid, Russia has used North Korean missiles to attack Ukrainian targets in recent weeks — and is in talks to secure more ballistic weaponry from Iran, US officials said Thursday.

Moscow has launched Pyongyang’s rockets into Ukraine at least twice in recent weeks as it strengthens ties with other US adversaries, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House.

“Due in part to our sanctions and export controls, Russia has become increasingly isolated on the world stage and they’ve been forced to look to like-minded states for military equipment,” he said. “As we’ve been warning publicly, one of those states is North Korea.”

The North Korean missiles can reach targets up to 550 miles away, according to Kirby, who called the attacks “a significant and concerning escalation in [North Korea’s] support for Russia.”

Russia launched its first North Korean missile on Dec. 30 – a day after Moscow fired 122 missiles and 36 drones in what Ukraine called the biggest aerial barrage of the war. At least one landed in an open field in the Zaporizhzhia region in southeastern Ukraine, Kirby said.

Russia has used North Korean missiles to attack Ukrainian targets in recent weeks.

Then on Jan. 2, the Kremlin sent “multiple” North Korean missiles into Ukraine, “including as part of this overnight aerial attack” that day, Kirby said. The US is still assessing the impact of those strikes.

The North Korean missiles can reach targets up to 550 miles away. REUTERS

“We expect Russia and North Korea to learn from these launches, and we anticipate that Russia will use additional North Korean missiles to target Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and to kill innocent Ukrainian civilians,” he said.

In return for its support, Pyongyang is asking Russia for military assistance, “including fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment or materials and other advanced technologies,” Kirby said.

“This would have concerning security implications for the Korean Peninsula and the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during the White House’s daily press briefing. AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Russia is also in talks with Tehran’s mullahs to obtain close-range ballistic missiles to use against Kyiv. While the US assesses that Iran has yet to deliver those weapons, negotiations “are actively advancing,” Kirby said.

Iran has previously sent Russia hundreds of attack drones, upon which Moscow has relied heavily as its own stockpiles dwindle. While Iran has not yet sent missiles, Russia has been seeking them since at least this past November.

Recent interactions between the two countries have suggested they are close to closing a deal. For example, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in mid-December “deployed ballistic missile and missile-support systems to a training area inside Iran for display to a visiting Russian delegation,” Kirby said.

Iran has previously sent Russia hundreds of attack drones.

As Moscow looks to its like-minded friends for aid, Washington has run out of funding to provide additional military equipment and weapons to Ukraine with Congress currently locked in stalemate over a supplemental funding bill that would provide $61.4 billion for Ukraine in its current form.

“Russia is relying upon its friends to replenish its military stockpiles and enable its war against Ukraine,” Kirby said. “Iran and [North Korea] are standing with Russia – Ukrainians deserve to know that the American people and this government will continue to stand with them.”

The Biden administration technically has congressionally approved authority to send another $4.2 billion worth of military aid from its stockpile, but Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Thursday there are no appropriated funds to actually pay for further assistance packages.

“As we went into the holidays here, we had no more replenishment funds [for DoD stockpiles,]” he said. “And so right now, I’m not anticipating any new [military aid package] announcements in terms of new capabilities, which is why we will continue to work closely with Congress and urge them to pass the supplemental.”

A bomb squad member works next to part of a Russian missile at the site of an attack in Ukraine. REUTERS

In response to the recent missile launches, Washington plans to raise the issue at the United Nations Security Council to “demand that Russia be held accountable for yet again violating its international obligations,” according to Kirby.

The Biden administration will also impose additional sanctions “against those working to facilitate arms transfers between Russia and [North Korea] and between Russia and Iran” that “directly violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions,” he added.


Written by SaleemBaloch

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