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Besides sharing a border with the Ukraine, Russia shares a direct border with their historical and current ally of North Korea. According to Brian Whitmore, RFERL “Shortly after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Putin wrote off most of North Korea’s $11 billion debt to Russia.” See: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/the-power-vertical-north-korea-client-state-of-russia/

Besides a new ferry route Russia and North Korea share a border: https://en.wikipedia.org/api/rest_v1/page/pdf/North_Korea–Russia_border

From RFERL: https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-journalist-sokolov-sentenced-extremism/28669536.html
Ukraine Denies Supplying North Korea With Missile Technology, Alleges Russia To Blame by Christopher Miller Last Updated: August 14, 2017 17:29 GMT

One proliferation analyst says North Korea’s Hwasong-14 uses a different rocket engine than the one mentioned in the report.

KYIV — An anxious Kyiv has denied a story in The New York Times quoting an expert as saying North Korea may have obtained rocket engines from a Ukrainian state-run factory known as Yuzhmash, and instead alleges Russia is to blame.

Citing a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and classified assessments by U.S. intelligence agencies, the Times on August 14 reported that Pyongyang’s recent progress in its long-range missile program may be due to it having obtained advanced engine technology from Ukraine or Russia.

But the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), Oleksandr Turchynov, insisted that could not be the case.

“Ukraine has never supplied rocket engines or any kind of missile technology to North Korea,” he said in a strongly worded statement published on the council’s website. “We believe that this anti-Ukrainian campaign was triggered by Russian secret services to cover their participation in the North Korean nuclear and missile programs.”

Moscow has not commented on the report or Ukraine’s allegations.

In its own statement, Yuzhmash said it “has never before and does not have anything to do with North Korean missile programs of a space or defense nature.” The company also said the Times’ report was “provocative” and “based on an incompetent expert opinion.”

Michael Elleman, the expert and author of the report for the London-based IISS, told The New York Times that he believed the Yuzhmash missile factory, located in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, was “the most likely source of the engines” that powered North Korea’s two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.

However, Elleman conceded that the North Koreans could have gotten the technology from Russia, as well, something he reiterated on Twitter following publication of the report.

As the report notes, the Yuzhmash factory is located near territory controlled by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. It is also not far from the border with Russia, and amid the chaos of war, Ukraine’s east has become a haven for illicit trade.

A Ukrainian security official who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue said Ukraine had had success in tackling smuggling recently but had in the past struggled with keeping secrets from the rocket factory from leaking outside the country.

Elleman, speaking to the Times, suggested that could be the case here, saying, “It’s likely that these engines came from Ukraine — probably illicitly.”

He added about the North Koreans and possible Ukrainian state involvement: “The big question is how many they have and whether the Ukrainians are helping them now. I’m very worried.”

‘It’s A Russian Psyop’

The allegations of Ukraine’s possible involvement in supplying Pyongyang with missile technology come at a particularly crucial moment for the country. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is currently weighing whether to provide Kyiv with lethal weapons, including Javelin antitank missiles, to better defend against the Russia-backed forces it has been fighting in its east for more than three years.
That’s one reason why Ukraine’s security apparatus is “working to correct this information as fast as possible, based on facts,” NSDC Deputy Secretary Oleksandr Litvinenko told RFE/RL by phone.

Litvinenko claimed Russian “psyops” — or psychological operations, a term used to describe noncombative military operations — played a role in the delivery of rocket technology to Pyongyang in order to cover the country’s own participation in North Korea’s missile program in a manner that could frame Ukraine, and possibly even in the dissemination of the IISS report itself.

He pointed to Elleman’s past work in Russia from 1995 to 2001, when he led a program aimed at dismantling obsolete long-range missiles, according to his biography on IISS’s website, as evidence of his ties to Moscow.

Asked if the NSDC or any other security body would be investigating whether the rocket technology could have been obtained illegally from someone in Ukraine and smuggled to Pyongyang, Litvinenko said that “could not happen,” suggesting there would be no inquiry.

“I do not believe there are stupid Ukrainians who can sell the engine to North Korea. Russia played with [the] Kims,” he said, referring to the family of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Moscow’s backing in some cases of the tightly controlled state.

Some Experts Not Convinced

It is not only the Ukrainians denying the findings in Elleman’s report. Joshua Pollack, editor of The Nonproliferation Review and a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, told RFE/RL via direct message on Twitter that he believed “the report is bogus.”

“The [U.S. government] is convinced that [North Korea] makes its own rocket engines. It has sanctioned Iran for participating in the development of the 80-ton engine that Elleman and others link to the Soviet RD-250,” he said, referring to the specific technology alleged to have come from Ukraine or Russia in the IISS report.

Moreover, Pollack said, that engine was not used in the North Korean Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 rockets launched this summer. “They use a different, smaller main engine, and also have four small steering engines around it,” he added.” Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036 https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-journalist-sokolov-sentenced-extremism/28669536.html

The tweets apparently have been deleted. They are reported by censor.net.ua as
Let me be clear about DPRK’s source of ICBM engine: Yuzhnoye is one of several possible sources, there are other potentials in Russia. 1/2
– Mike Elleman (@Elleman_IISS) 14 серпня 2017

I don’t believe Ukr gov’t condoned or knew, if the engines were sourced in Ukr. To the contrary, Ukr arrested North Koreans in 2012! 2/2
– Mike Elleman (@Elleman_IISS) 14 серпня 2017

Source: https://en.censor.net.ua/n451719

NY Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/14/world/asia/north-korea-missiles-ukraine-factory.html

Dnipropetrovsk is tightly connected to Yuzhmash Missiles Factory with production ties to the Russian Army. Up until now it had no separatism symptoms because of the activities of the oblast governor. Pressure on Kolomoyskyi can destabilize the situation in the oblast with all the outcomes…” Excerpted from “Situation Report as of March 24, 2015” By Falcon Bjorn on 03/25/2015 Donbas https://informnapalm.org/en/situation-report-from-informnapalm-team-as-of-march-24-2015/

After World War II, Russia (USSR) occupied North Korea and the US South Korea:
North Korea, a largely mountainous region, held valuable mineral deposits, especially coal. Excellent hydroelectric plants, constructed during the last ten years of Japanese domination, ranked with the largest and best in the world. Because of its power resources, North Korea housed almost all of Korea’s heavy industry, including several rolling mills and a highly developed chemical industry. In 1940, North Korea produced 86 percent of Korea’s heavy manufactured goods. The only petroleum processing plant in the country, a major installation designed to serve all of Korea, was located in the north, as were seven of eight cement plants. Almost all the electrical power used by South Korea came from the north, as did iron, steel, wood pulp, and industrial chemicals needed by South Korea’s light industry.” http://www.history.army.mil/books/PD-C-01.HTM

The Soviet Union installed Kim Il-sung in 1945 and gave North Korea aid until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Il-sung Apparently things haven’t changed so much under former KGB man Putin.

Emphasis our own throughout blog post.