President Donald Trump blamed Russia on Monday for helping North Korea and accused it of undercutting efforts to sanction the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
Trump was questioned during a press conference about the news that Pyongyang might demonstrate willingness to begin negotiations with the U.S. over its nuclear weapons program, at which the president responded by saying that Beijing is doing more than ever to pressure the hermit kingdom to negotiate, while Russia is “sending in what China is taking out.”
Trump’s remarks come amid suspicions that Moscow is carrying out business with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s rogue regime, despite international sanctions aimed at curbing the country’s development of nuclear weapons, Newsweek writes.
“There is at least some evidence to suggest Russia is in some capacity selling oil to North Korea in violation of UN Security Council resolutions they have signed on to. The challenge is we have no way of knowing if such shipments come at the directive of the Putin government or traders in Russia’s Far East smelling profits and are filling the void,” said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest.
“The good news in this situation is that Moscow could never completely fill the oil and natural resources void China is vacating thanks to sanctions,” he added.
Russia has agreed to comply with international sanctions imposed on North Korea. Earlier this month, Russia’s Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora announced that Russia would begin deporting the tens of thousands of North Korean workers stationed in Russia’ far east. At the same time, however, there have been reports that Moscow may be supplying oil to North Korea.
“The United Nations Security Council resolutions limit the amount of oil and oil products that can be exported to North Korea. They also prohibit UN member states from engaging in ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned North Korea goods and resources. There is some evidence that Russia is helping North Korea to evade these sanctions by engaging in ship-to-ship transfers of fuel,”Lisa Collins, an expert on the Koreas at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Newsweek.
She said that Russia may be doing so in order to gain leverage over negotiating partners on the international level. However, some experts believe that Moscow is unlikely to admit to undercutting international sanctions by doing business with Pyongyang.
“Moscow claims that it has repeatedly demonstrated clear opposition to North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme,” James Brown, an expert on Russia and the Far East, said.