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US sanctions companies involved in arms deals between Russia, North Korea

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 17, 2023 9:18 AM 2 min read
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un receives Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Pyongyang, North Korea, on July 27, 2023. (API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
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The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Aug. 16 that it had sanctioned three entities attempting to facilitate North Korea’s weaponry supplies to Russia.

The companies are Verus, Defense Engineering, and Versor, registered in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Slovakia, respectively.

All of them are owned or managed by Slovakian national Ashot Mkrtychev, who was sanctioned back in March.

According to the U.S. Treasury, Mkrtychev held negotiations with Russian and North Korean officials, organizing potential plans to deliver over two dozen types of weapons and ammunition to Russia in exchange for a number of goods, including raw materials and products, to North Korea.

Yermak: Russian missiles used for Aug. 15 attack have 30 foreign components
The Kh-101 cruise missiles that Russia used in the morning attack on Ukraine contain about 30 foreign-made chips, Presidential Office head Andriy Yermak said on Aug. 15. The missiles were manufactured by Russia in April this year, he added.

“This action is part of the continuing U.S. strategy to identify, expose, and disrupt third-country actors seeking to support Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine,” the U.S. Treasury wrote.

“As Russia has continued to expend munitions and lose heavy equipment on the battlefield, it has been increasingly forced to turn to its few allies, including the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), to sustain its unprovoked war in Ukraine.”

On Aug. 15, Washington cautioned Russia on North Korean military ties, saying that such cooperation would violate U.N. resolutions aimed at restricting North Korea's nuclear program.

In addition to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's prior declaration of "complete backing" for Russia's actions in Ukraine, Moscow reportedly initiated talks with Pyongyang regarding the provision of food in return for weaponry.

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