NewsRussia defies UN sanctions by sending oil directly to North Korea

Russia defies UN sanctions by sending oil directly to North Korea

Kim Jong Un with Vladimir Putin
Kim Jong Un with Vladimir Putin
Images source: © East News | ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO
9:51 AM EDT, March 26, 2024
Russia has started sending oil directly to North Korea, defying UN sanctions intended to curb Pyongyang's nuclear program, strengthening the bond between the two authoritarian nations, according to a report by the British newspaper Financial Times on Tuesday.
Satellite imagery analyzed by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a London-based think tank, revealed that at least five North Korean tankers headed for Vostochny Port in Russia's Far East beginning March 6, marking the first confirmed direct maritime deliveries of oil from Russia to North Korea since 2017. At that time, the UN Security Council, with Moscow's agreement, imposed strict limits on such supplies in reaction to North Korean nuclear tests.
"These oil deliveries challenge the sanction's regime on the brink of collapse," stated Hugh Griffiths, ex-coordinator of the UN panel overseeing the North Korean sanctions.
The vessels, flying North Korean flags and identified as tankers, docked at a berth operated by a Russian oil firm in Vostochny, where they were reportedly loaded with oil. Satellite data also showed two of these ships then headed for the North Korean port of Chongjin, seemingly for offloading, the Financial Times detailed.

Kim's Large Fleet

Among the vessels at Russian terminals were some of the largest in North Korea's fleet, often seen entering and exiting the port. Notably, several are under UN sanctions, theoretically barring their access to international ports, let alone for oil trading, pointed out RUSI's Joseph Byrne.
The Financial Times further mentioned that North Korea began supplying thousands of ammunition containers to Russia last August, significantly bolstering Russian military efforts in Ukraine. Vostochny Port has also facilitated Russian ships suspected of engaging in arms trade between the two countries.

Weapons for Crude Oil

"We're witnessing a clear barter deal here, trading weapons for crude oil, flagrantly breaching the sanctions Vladimir Putin himself endorsed. This highlights Russia's recent transformation from an international agitator to a rogue state," Griffiths commented.
The report also noted that all five North Korean ships reached Vostochny with their transponders off. One of them, Paek Yang San 1, was previously tagged by the UN in 2018 for its role in illegal oil transfers, attempting to dodge the import cap.
Under these sanctions, North Korea's annual oil and petroleum products imports are capped at approximately 132,086 gallons (500,000 barrels) and must be reported to the UN sanctions committee to conform with the sanctions framework.
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