Ukraine sees itself victim of Russian ‘provocation’ in North Korea missile row

Poroshenko debriefed about the findings of the Working Group on the verification of information published by the New York Times on 14 August 14 2017. [Website of the President of Ukraine]

Ukraine called allegations about the use of Ukrainian technology in the North Korean missile program a “Russian provocation” on Tuesday (22 August).

On 14 August, The New York Times published an article contending that North Korea’s success in testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that may reach the United States was made possible by black market purchases of powerful rocket engines “probably from a Ukrainian factory” with historical ties to Russia’s missile program. The article quotes an expert analysis by ISS Voices, signed by Senior Fellow for Missile Defence Michael Elleman.

Two days later Ukraine’s president established by decree a working group to study the allegations, led by the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov. The group is reported to consist of members of the special services, the State Space Agency of Ukraine, the State Service of Export Control of Ukraine, the foreign ministry, and other agencies.

According to a press release, Poroshenko was debriefed yesterday about the findings of the working group, and the report of the working group was published simultaneously.

The report says that according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, “the Russian side proactively distributed among certain representatives of the military-diplomatic corps accredited in Moscow a position paper stating that the North Korean missiles were allegedly developed with the aid of Ukrainian specialists”.

Pyongyang threatens missile strike on US territory after Trump’s warning

North Korea said on Wednesday (8 August) it is considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.

The report goes further:

“Besides that Russian intelligence systematically uses contacts earlier established with the expert and journalist community of different countries (bold text in the original report) for the dissemination of provocative information that discredits Ukraine. In this case, the disclosure of the content of the mentioned position paper by American expert Michael Elleman, whose family has very close relations with key officials of Russian special services, is further support of the above fact.”

According to the working group, Elleman was “cynically used” by Russian special services for the dissemination of “provocative information”.

“Today Russia conducts aggression against Ukraine in terms of a hybrid warfare, during which Russia, apart from combat operations, massively uses well-planned information provocations to discredit Ukraine as a reliable and predictable partner, in particular, in such a sensitive area for the international community as military-technical cooperation,” Turchynov is quoted as saying.

During the meeting, Turchynov is reported to have said:

“One of the tasks of such provocations is manipulating the public opinion in order to cover the Russian Federation’s active involvement in many toxic campaigns […] The Working Group considers The New York Times’ publication as an element of information smoke screen and an attempt to distract attention of the international community from alleged participation of the Russian Federation in the development of a ballistic missiles program in the North Korea.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is reported to have commended the findings of the working group.

The president reportedly instructed the foreign ministry “to arrange a group of experts and to initiate the consideration of this issue by the UN Security Council at a closed meeting”.

“In addition, it is necessary to make public the conclusions of the Working Group and Inter-agency Commission, as well as to inform our international partners of the findings and to initiate a similar investigation by respective countries. First of all, the same level of transparency shall be demonstrated by the Russian Federation,” Poroshenko is quoted as saying.

EU calls for 'peaceful, not military' solution to Korea crisis

The European Union’s foreign policy chief on Monday (14 August) called for “peaceful, not military” means to resolve the Korean peninsula crisis, urging Pyongyang to avoid any “further provocative action” that could stoke tensions.

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