Senior European security sources have claimed that Russian tankers have undermined UN Security Council sanctions by transferring fuel to North Korean tankers in international waters.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry vehemently denied the accusations on Saturday, saying that Russia has “fully and strictly observed the sanctions regime.” A recent round of tighter sanctions unanimously passed by the UN Security Council sharply limits the amount of refined oil products that North Korea can import.
The reports came a day after China denied similar accusations. On Friday, US President Donald Trump claimed China had been caught “red-handed” transferring oil to North Korean vessels. Beijing has denied any wrongdoing and said it would punish any such actions, should they be found to have happened.
Russia, China call for diplomatic solution
The United States has voiced concern over efforts to undermine the UN sanctions, claiming such acts provide a lifeline to Pyongyang.
Oil is important for the operation of North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, which has caused international consternation and was the reason for the UN sanctions. It is hoped that by crippling the country economically, it can be forced to give up the program.
Russia and China have both made calls for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, which has become ever more heated as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump have taken to exchanging public insults over the last year.
Russia and China, both of which sit on the UN Security Council, are also two of North Korea’s largest trading partners.
js/cmk (AP, Reuters)