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US imposes sanctions in response to North Korea's missile transfer to Russia

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 11, 2024 11:56 PM 2 min read
The US Treasury building in Washington, D.C., US, on Sunday, May 22, 2022. (Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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The U.S. has sanctioned Vladimir Mikheychik, who heads the Russian state-owned airline 224th Flight Unit, involved in transferring North Korean ballistic missiles to Russia, the Treasury Department announced on Jan. 11.

Last week, the White House reported that Moscow has deployed North Korean-supplied ballistic missiles in recent attacks against Ukraine. Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin said on Jan. 11 that Ukrainian authorities had received the first preliminary evidence confirming the U.S.'s report.

The 224th Flight Unit Airlines belongs to the Russian Defense Ministry, and its services are frequently used by the Russian Presidential Administration. According to OCCRP, Mikheychik is the brother-in-law of one of President Vladimir Putin's former bodyguards.

"The United States will continue to disrupt and expose arms transfers between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Russia," the U.S. Department of State wrote.

"As part of that continued effort, the Department of State is today imposing sanctions on one individual and three entities complicit in the transfer to Russia and testing of DPRK-origin ballistic missiles by Russia since late November 2023."

The three sanctioned entities include the 224th Flight Unit State Airlines, Vladimirovka Advanced Weapons and Research Complex (VAWARC), a Russian military facility involved in the testing of missiles, and the Russian missile testing range Ashuluk.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) investigated Mikheychik and determined he was responsible for coordinating the transfer of weapons and Wagner group mercenary fighters to Ukraine in August 2022.

"Mikheychik helped the top military and political leadership of the Russian Federation in transferring the personnel and military equipment of the occupying groups to the Ukrainian border," the SBU said in August 2023.

The U.S. also imposed sanctions on three Russian military transport planes.

The U.S. and nearly 50 countries condemned the transfer and the reported use of North Korean missiles by Russia, calling for an immediate end to the delivery of weapons from Pyongyang to Moscow.

South Korea warned earlier on Jan. 11 that its northern neighbor may also sell Russia new types of tactical guided missiles as military cooperation between the two countries strengthens.

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