Russia Defies UN Sanctions: Direct Oil Deliveries to North Korea Deepen Ties

World » RUSSIA | Author: Diana Kavardzhikova |March 26, 2024, Tuesday // 11:45
Bulgaria: Russia Defies UN Sanctions: Direct Oil Deliveries to North Korea Deepen Ties Pixabay

Challenging international sanctions, Russia has commenced direct oil supplies to North Korea, bolstering ties between the two authoritarian regimes and undermining efforts to contain Pyongyang's activities.

Satellite imagery obtained by the Financial Times from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) reveals that at least five North Korean tankers have journeyed to Russia's Far East port of Vostochny this month to load oil products. This marks the first documented direct sea shipments from Russia to North Korea since the UN Security Council imposed strict limitations on oil transfers in 2017, in response to Pyongyang's nuclear tests.

Hugh Griffiths, former coordinator of the UN sanctions monitoring group against North Korea, condemned the oil shipments as a "full-frontal attack" on the sanctions regime, signaling its potential collapse.

The North Korean-flagged vessels, classified as oil product tankers, were observed visiting the same berth operated by a Russian oil company in Vostochny port, where they presumably loaded cargo. Subsequent satellite images indicated that two of the ships sailed from Vostochny to North Korea's Chongjin port, apparently to unload their cargo.

The revelation of direct oil shipments follows North Korea's dispatch of thousands of munitions containers to Russia last August, reportedly aiding Moscow's military efforts in Ukraine. This pattern has raised concerns about an illicit arms-for-oil trade, further straining international efforts to contain North Korea.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment, while operators of the North Korean vessels remained unreachable.

Estimates by RUSI researchers suggest that the documented oil supplies from Vostochny port could already amount to a quarter of the authorized annual quota, potentially breaching UN sanctions.

The disclosure of this apparent oil-for-arms trade coincides with Western diplomats' efforts to maintain the UN panel monitoring North Korea's compliance with sanctions. However, Russia's proposal to soften the panel's mandate, alongside China's support, has stalled renewal discussions, casting doubt on the panel's future and the effectiveness of sanctions.

As concerns grow over the sustainability of sanctions, analysts warn of the implications of lifting them, citing the potential repercussions seen in the current scenario.

Go Myung-hyun, a senior fellow at South Korea's National Security Strategy Institute, highlighted the significance of direct oil supplies from Russia to North Korea, suggesting they could stabilize the latter's economy and bolster its military capabilities.

The development underscores the complex geopolitical dynamics at play, as Russia's actions challenge the integrity of international sanctions while deepening its ties with North Korea.

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Tags: Russia, North Korea, sanctions, oil

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