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FT: Russia begins ‘arms-for-oil’ trade with North Korea, defies sanctions

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 26, 2024 4:17 PM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin (center L) and North Korean President Kim Jong Un (center R) visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Amur Oblast on Sept. 13, 2023. (Mikhail Metzel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia is defying U.N. sanctions by supplying North Korea with oil, likely in exchange for weapons, the Financial Times (FT) reported on March 26.

According to satellite images seen by FT and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), North Korean tankers have been sailing to and from the Vostochny Port in Russia’s Far East with their tracking responders disabled since March 7.

Pyongyang is subject to a strict cap on oil transfers, imposed by the U.N. Security Council in 2017 after a series of nuclear weapons tests.

Hugh Griffiths, a former co-ordinator of the U.N. panel that monitors sanctions on North Korea, told the FT: “These oil deliveries constitute a full-frontal assault against the sanctions regime, which is now on the brink of collapse.

“What we can see now is a clear arms-for-oil bartering arrangement in open contravention of sanctions that (Russian President) Vladimir Putin signed off on personally, illustrating Russia’s trajectory in recent years from international spoiler to outlaw state.”

North Korea has been shaping up as Russia's leading weapons supplier, reportedly providing Moscow with extensive military packages, including ballistic missiles and over 3 million artillery shells.

There has been at least 10 cases of Russia using North Korean missiles to strike Ukraine, said Jung Pak, the U.S. Senior Official for North Korea, as reported by the Voice of America (VoA) on March 18.

One of the first cases of Russia using North Korean ballistic missiles was recorded on Dec. 30, 2023, during an attack on Zaporizhzhia, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) wrote.

Later on, Russia's use of North Korean missiles was officially confirmed in the attack on Kharkiv on Jan. 2.

Two other cases of the launch of North Korean missiles at Kharkiv Oblast are currently being investigated, according to the local prosecutor's office.

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