Ukraine said it had endured the most widespread Russian artillery attacks of the year, as South Korea’s intelligence service reportedly said North Korea had delivered more than one million shells to Moscow in exchange for satellite know-how.
“Over the last 24 hours, the enemy shelled 118 settlements in 10 regions. This is the highest number of cities and villages that have come under attack since the start of the year,” Ukrainian interior minister Ihor Klymenko said on Wednesday morning.
Ukraine said its air defence systems shot down 18 of 20 attack drones fired by Russia in the early hours of Wednesday, but the strikes killed one person and injured four in the southeastern city of Nikopol and caused a fire at an oil refinery in the central city of Kremenchuk. Power lines were also damaged, causing a blackout in several nearby villages.
“The occupiers are continuing to terrorise the paths of civilian shipping in the Black Sea with tactical aviation, dropping explosive objects into the likely paths of civilian vessel traffic,” said Ukraine’s southern military command.
“There were three such drops registered in the last 24 hours. However, the navigation corridor continues to function under the watch of the defence forces,” it added, referring to a shipping route launched by Ukraine in August. It hugs the coastlines of Nato states Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, which Kyiv hopes will deter attacks by the Russian navy.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) believes North Korea has sent more than one million artillery rounds to Russia for use in Ukraine, in return for Moscow sharing satellite expertise with Pyongyang, according to South Korean deputy Yoo-Sang bum.
“North Korea is running its munition factories to full capacity to meet demand for military supplies to Russia and even mobilising residents and civilian factories to make ammunition boxes for exports,” he said, citing an NIS report to deputies.
He said the delivery of one million shells had been “analysed to be sufficient for around two months in the Russia-Ukraine war”.
The NIS suspects Pyongyang has received assistance from Russia for its military spy satellite programme, following two failed launches earlier this year.
“It appears that North Korea received that technical advice from Russia, so we are expecting a higher rate of success,” Mr Yoo said, adding that the agency believed a planned October launch had been postponed but now “final preparations such as inspections of the engine and launch device are in full swing”.
South Korea, the United States and Japan last week jointly condemned North Korean arms deliveries to Russia and warned against any technology transfers to Pyongyang that would breach United Nations resolutions. Moscow insists it is abiding by its international obligations in dealings with North Korea.
Heavy fighting continued in parts of eastern and southeastern Ukraine, and Kremlin-installed officials in occupied Crimea said Russian air defence units engaged “a large number of different flying targets in various zones” of the Black Sea peninsula, which the Kremlin illegally annexed in 2014.