US Issues Sanctions Against North Korea-Russia Arms Trade

Three companies were hit with sanctions by the Biden administration on Wednesday for their roles in a plot to ship weapons from North Korea to Russia for use in the conflict in Ukraine.

Verus, Defense Engineering, and Versor, three companies with ties to Ashot Mkrtychev, a Slovakian person sanctioned by the United States in March for seeking to broker weapons transfers between Russia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, formerly known as North Korea), are the targets of these penalties.

The Treasury Department claims that Mkrtychev negotiated with DPRK officials to trade commercial airplanes, raw materials, and commodities for various weapons and ammunition for Russia.

Mkrtychev, according to the Treasury Department, also assured high-ranking Russian officials of Russia’s preparedness to accept military weapons from the DPRK.

The Treasury Department claimed in a statement that Mkrtychev utilized Versor to facilitate communication between DPRK procurement officials and foreign businesses. U.S. people are prohibited from conducting business with the sanctioned firms, and the corporations are not permitted to acquire or maintain any property or interest in the United States due to the sanctions announced on Tuesday.

“The United States continues to root out illegal financial networks that aim to channel funding from North Korea to Russia’s military machine,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

Nelson said it is still their firm intention, along with friends and partners, to expose and disrupt the armaments trade that funds Putin’s horrific assault in Ukraine. Russia and North Korea are shunned internationally for several reasons: Moscow’s conflict in Ukraine, and Pyongyang’s illicit nuclear weapons development and human rights violations. Despite this, Russia and North Korea have worked to strengthen their connections.
According to reports from North Korean media this week, Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, and Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, have written to each other, with Kim calling for a “long-standing strategic alliance” to be established.