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Can North Korean missiles help Putin and Russia defeat Ukraine? – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: The deployment of North Korean ballistic missiles by Russia in the Ukraine conflict has raised concerns about a potential game-changer on the battlefield. Despite the apprehensions, the effectiveness of these missiles as a decisive factor in the conflict remains questionable. The missiles, identified as Kn-23 and Kn-24 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM), were reportedly launched from southwest Russia into southwest Ukraine, near Zaporizhia, according to US intelligence.
As per a Business Insider report, North Korean weaponry, typically known for affordability rather than quality, has shown some sophistication in these ballistic missiles.Unlike the outdated Soviet Scud, the Kn-23 and Kn-24 are solid-fueled missiles capable of quick launches. Masao Dahlgren, a missile defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, highlighted their advanced nature, saying, “These are more sophisticated, solid-fueled missiles that can be launched without much preparation time. They may have some design heritage with Russian systems, but they borrow heavily from North Korean expertise.”
Despite the advanced technology, the true impact of these missiles on the conflict is yet to be determined. The key lies in understanding their guidance systems and accuracy, which remain largely unknown. As Dahlgren pointed out, “The real secret sauce” will be learning about their guidance systems. “We hope to learn a little bit more from parts that the Ukrainians will be picking up in the next couple of months.”
The reliance on a large number of missiles to compensate for the underperformance of ground troops and air force suggests that Russia might require a substantial supply of these North Korean missiles. This raises questions about North Korea‘s production capabilities, which have seen significant advancements recently. The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated North Korea’s production of a dozen ICBMs and intermediate-range missiles each, plus at least 70 SRBMs in 2023.
Meanwhile, South Korea and US have voiced concerns about Kim Jong Un’s involvement in arms transactions with Russia, potentially trading weaponry for assistance in advancing Pyongyang’s emerging spy satellite program. This collaboration was underscored by Kim’s uncommon visit to Russia in September, where he met with President Vladimir Putin at a cosmodrome. In a reciprocal gesture, Putin is expected to visit Pyongyang, following North Korea’s successful launch of its inaugural spy satellite in November.
Ahn Chan-il, a defector who now leads the World Institute for North Korea Studies, shared insights with AFP, saying, “It is believed that North Korea has commenced mass production of cruise missiles ordered by Russia.” Ahn further noted the likelihood of North Korea conducting maritime tests of these commissioned missiles, causing disturbances for South Korea and the United States. He emphasized the necessity of conducting a minimum of five tests for all guided missiles before their deployment in combat scenarios.
Echoing this sentiment, Hong Min, a senior analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, acknowledged the plausibility of North Korea performing test-firings of cruise missiles destined for Russia. He highlighted to AFP the pivotal role cruise missiles have played for Russia in targeting key facilities in Ukraine during the ongoing conflict.
Adding to the discourse, Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean army general, remarked on the commercial nature of North Korea’s arms dealings, stating, “North Korean weapons are for sale as long as the price is right.” This comment underscores the transactional approach of Pyongyang in the global arms market, further complicating the geopolitical landscape.
However, the ultimate question remains whether these North Korean missiles can tip the scales in Russia’s favor in Ukraine. Given the resilience shown by Ukraine against relentless bombardment from various sophisticated weaponry over two years, the addition of North Korean SRBMs might not be the decisive factor Russia hopes for. As the situation unfolds, the world watches closely, assessing the impact of these missiles on the conflict and the geopolitical dynamics they entail.
(With inputs from agencies)





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