In August 2017, various media reports, including Fort Russ News analyses, suggested that Ukrainian rocket-producing technologies might have been supplied to North Korea under scandalous circumstances.
A Russian specialist in this field, Aleksei Leonkov, has now shared some details behind this now exposed past collaboration between Kiev and Pyongyang.
After the collapse of the USSR, a number of project offices, including Yuzhnoe, began to look for opportunities to participate in international deals which ultimately led to collaboration between Ukrainian enterprises and Pyongyang in the rocket industry.
Possible collaboration between the two countries was subsequently revealed by US intelligence in their espionage into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s rocket program. At that moment, Washington realized with surprise that “a country always considered backward and poor” was in fact a polygon of tests for rocket engines, Leonkov contextualized.
Analyzing images obtained by spy satellites, the US came to the conclusion that the engines were very similar to those developed by the Ukrainian Yuzhnoe office, Leonkov recounted.
As a result, North Korea has gained access to rocket engines as well as rocket fuel preservation technologies in capsules which avoid the need to refuel the rocket before each new launch.
“It is little known that North Korea, in fact, designated a visa-free regime for Ukrainian experts. They flew to North Korea … without formalizing any documents,” he added.
According to the analyst, the ensuing collaboration, which lasted approximately 15 years, was covered up by the Ukrainian Security Service.
Aleksei Leonkov also spoke about the fruit of this collaboration for Kiev: “I think Ukraine has had some benefits, particularly in cash. Of course, it did not do that for North Korea for free,” he explained.
According to him, collaboration with Ukraine contributed to the development of North Korea’s rocket program, however, the resources that Kiev would have received from Pyongyang were not used to develop this same industry in Ukraine.
“The merit of Ukraine in this business is undeniable. Ukraine contributed and made money, but it is not known how Kiev spent that money, which is likely to have been appropriated by the authorities, but the Ukrainian rocket industry did not receive anything,” Leonkov said.
“However, now this collaboration harms [the Ukrainians], since nobody, aside from the North Koreans, thanks them. Because of this, the Ukrainians have lost the chances of gaining access to the space market,” the expert argued.
This expert’s remarks seem to support the increasingly recognized thesis of number of analysts that the elites of the Ukrainian state project founded in 1991 have demonstrated a persistent lack of strategic thinking.