Russia says it sticks to UN sanctions on North Korea amid reports of illegal oil supplies

Russia is fulfilling the UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions against North Korea, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in response to media reports on illegal shipments of oil.

“Russia fully and strictly observes the sanctions regime,” the ministry said in a statement on Saturday. It also stressed the UN resolution does not fully ban oil supplies but only caps them, while a special ministry committee observes the commitment to the sanctions regime.

Earlier, Reuters published an exclusive report citing unnamed “senior Western European security sources” that claim that Russian tankers re-supplied North Korean vessels with fuel on three occasions in violation of the UNSC measures.

China has faced similar accusations. On Thursday, US President Donald Trump tweeted that China was “caught red handed” allegedly allowing oil supplies to the North after South Korean media reported on the matter.

On Friday, South Korea accused China of violating sanctions, saying the Hong Kong-flagged vessels improperly transferred oil to North Korean vessels at sea. Beijing rebuffed the allegations and stressed that it will never allow Chinese companies to violate UN resolutions.

“What is described in these reports turns out to be untrue. The hyped-up media reports are not conducive to building mutual trust and conducting cooperation between all parties on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Friday.

On December 22, the fifteen members of the UN Security Council unanimously approved a new round of sanctions on North Korea, slashing its oil and petroleum imports, following its latest ballistic missile test launch on November 29. Pyongyang immediately condemned the move, calling it an “act of war,” and demanded repatriation of all North Koreans working abroad within 24 months.