According to media reports, Ukrainian artillery crews are using rockets from Russia's ally North Korea in military strikes against the Russian military.
As first reported by the Financial Times, the publication confirmed that Ukrainian troops operating Soviet-era Grad multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) in Bakhmut used North Korean munitions.
The Grad, which translates as "hail," fires up to 40 rockets in less than 20 seconds from tubes mounted on its Ural truck chassis. Human Rights Watch described Grad rockets as being "notoriously indiscriminate."
Last month, photographs emerged of Ukrainian forces possessing North Korean munitions in the southern Zaporizhzhya region. However, they were not identified as being from North Korea at the time.
Ruslan, a Ukrainian artillery commander, said using them is not preferred. He explained they have a relatively high dud rate and frequently misfire or fail to explode.
One Ukrainian Grad unit member added that the North Korean munitions "are very unreliable and do crazy things sometimes." He advised the Financial Times not to get too close to the rocket launcher when the crew fired.
Despite reliability issues, the Ukrainians are happy to use them. "We need every rocket we can get," said Ruslan.
According to their markings, many munitions have manufacturing dates from the 1980s and 1990s.
The discovery revealed Ukraine's 'mixed-up cauldron' of military equipment, ranging from aging Soviet kits to modern precision weapons.
Ukraine's defence ministry claimed the rockets were taken from Russian forces, whereas Ukrainian soldiers said a "friendly" country "seized" them from a ship before delivering them to Ukraine.
"We capture their tanks, we capture their equipment, and this may also be the result of the Ukrainian army successfully conducting a military operation," said Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine's defence minister.
"Russia has been shopping around for different types of munitions in all kinds of tyrannies, including North Korea and Iran."
In March, the White House claimed Moscow negotiated munitions with Pyongyang in exchange for food.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby also alleged Pyongyang sold rockets and missiles to the Wagner militia during the siege of Bakhmut, which Wagner discredited as "gossip."
The military strikes along the northern and southern flanks of Bakhmut — in the highly-contested eastern region of Donetsk — signify a contested détente between Russian and Ukrainian forces spanning several months since the initial siege.
Both sides have used Grad rocket launchers since Moscow first invaded eastern Ukraine in February 2022.