Russia using ballistic missiles it purchased from North Korea in Ukraine, US intelligence says

U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Russia has acquired ballistic missiles from North Korea and is seeking close-range ballistic missiles from Iran as Moscow struggles to replenish supplies for its war with Ukraine, the White House said Thursday.

Recently declassified intelligence found that North Korea has provided Russia with ballistic missile launchers and several ballistic missiles, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. Russian forces fired at least one of those ballistic missiles into Ukraine on Dec. 30 and it landed in an open field in the Zaporizhzhia region, he said.

Russia launched multiple North Korean ballistic missiles on Tuesday as part of an overnight attack, and the U.S. was assessing the impact, he said. The missiles have a range of about 550 miles (885 kilometers).

U.S. intelligence officials believe that North Korea, in return for its arms support, wants Russia to provide it with aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment and other advanced technologies.

Kirby said that a Russia-Iran deal had not been completed but that the U.S. "is concerned that Russia's negotiations to acquire close range ballistic missiles from Iran are actively advancing."

The U.S. intelligence finding supports South Korea's assessment that North Korea has increased its cooperation with Moscow. South Korea’s military said in November that it suspected North Korea had sent an unspecified number of short-range ballistic missiles, anti-tank missiles and portable anti-air missiles to Russia, in addition to rifles, rocket launchers, mortars and shells.

The Biden administration has repeatedly sought to make the case that the Kremlin has become reliant on North Korea, as well as Iran, for the arms it needs to fight its war against Ukraine and has disclosed intelligence findings that it says show as much.

North Korea and Iran are largely isolated on the international stage for their nuclear programs and human rights records.

The White House in October said that North Korea delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia.

Relations between Russia and North Korea go back to the 1948 foundation of North Korea. Soviet officials installed a young and ambitious nationalist, Kim Il Sung, the late grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un, as the country’s first ruler. Soviet aid shipments were crucial in keeping North Korea’s economy afloat for decades before the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Kim traveled to Russia in September to meet President Vladimir Putin and visit key military sites.

The White House has said Russia has received hundreds of one-way attack drones, as well as drone production-related equipment, from Iran. The Democratic administration also has accused Tehran of providing Russia with materials to build a drone manufacturing plant east of Moscow.

Kirby said the U.S. would raise its concerns about the arms arrangement findings at the U.N. Security Council and would look to impose additional sanctions against North Korean and Iranian individuals and entities facilitating weapons transfers with Russia.