TechEscalating threat: Russia increasingly uses North Korean ballistic missiles in Ukraine

Escalating threat: Russia increasingly uses North Korean ballistic missiles in Ukraine

North Korean missile launchers, illustrative photo
North Korean missile launchers, illustrative photo
Images source: © X, @clashreport

12:41 PM EST, February 17, 2024

By February 7, 2024, Russians have launched at least 24 North Korean ballistic missiles into Ukraine. With these, 12 strikes have been carried out in seven regions of the besieged country. Ukraine's Attorney General, Andrey Kostin, provided such information to Reuters. He emphasized that the "accuracy of the North Korean missiles is questionable," yet they have already caused at least 14 civilian deaths and wounded another 70.

The occurrence of such weapons being utilized by Russians is rapidly escalating. The first confirmed use of a ballistic missile in Ukraine was on January 2, 2024. According to experts, it carries an additional significant threat to Ukraine.

North Korean ballistic missiles in Ukraine

"If North Korea begins a mass transfer of various types of ballistic missiles, it could become a serious issue. We don't have enough Patriot systems to cover Ukraine's entire territory," said Ukrainian military expert Mykhailo Samus.

Findings from the international research organization Conflict Armament Research revealed that the Russians are receiving ballistic missiles KN-23 (and possibly similar KN-24) from North Korea.

What are KN-23 ballistic missiles?

The KN-23 ballistic missiles measure 24.6 feet long and 3.12 feet in diameter. Weighing approximately 7496 pounds, they have warheads weighing roughly 1102 pounds. These are short-range ballistic missiles capable of attacking targets around 373 miles away. They perform better in this aspect than the Russian Iskander. KN-24 ballistic missiles, which could already be in Ukraine, are slightly smaller than the KN-23 but have a similar range.

Joe Byrne, a specialist from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), highlights that the performance of North Korean ballistic missiles interests many countries. This includes Ukraine, its NATO allies, South Korea, and Japan.

"The performance of these rockets holds interest far beyond the Ukrainian battlefield. Military experts in South Korea and Japan are keen to understand the North Korean systems to enhance their defensive capabilities," explains Joe Byrne.

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