The United States says Russia has turned to countries like North Korea to replenish depleted arms stockpiles in its war with Ukraine.
The United States announced sanctions against a Slovak who was apparently working to organize an arms sale between North Korea and Russia, as the war in Ukraine strains Moscow’s access to military assets.
The US Treasury Department said on Thursday it was imposing sanctions on Ashot Mkrtychev as part of its effort to limit Russia’s ability to replace military equipment lost on the battlefield.
“Russia has lost more than 9,000 pieces of heavy military equipment since the war began, and thanks in part to multilateral sanctions and export controls, Putin is increasingly desperate to replace them,” the statement said. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a statement. Press release.
“Schemes like the arms deal pursued by this individual show that Putin is turning to suppliers of last resort like Iran and the DPRK. [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].”
Shortly after the sanctions were announced, the White House expressed concern that “North Korea will provide further support to Russia’s military operations against Ukraine.”
“We have new information that Russia is actively seeking to acquire additional munitions from North Korea,” national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters. Such a deal would violate UN Security Council resolutions, he added.
As Russia’s costly invasion of Ukraine drags on, the United States has continued its efforts to isolate Russia economic and diplomatic. However, Russia benefited from ongoing relationships with countries around the world who consider him an important ally and commercial partner.
Yellen said the United States would continue to suppress Russian efforts to “evade sanctions and obtain military equipment” from countries like North Korea.
The press release said Mkrtychev is a Slovak national who negotiated with Russian and North Korean officials to forge a relationship of “mutually beneficial cooperation.”
From 2022 to early 2023, the Treasury said Mkrtychev arranged for North Korean officials to supply “more than two dozen types of weapons and ammunition to Russia.” In exchange, he worked to deliver commercial aircraft, raw materials and goods to North Korea.
North Korea is itself under strong American pressure punishments, which may affect their ability to access various assets. The press release says Mkrtychev’s negotiations have been confirmed with senior Russian officials, indicating that “preparations for a proposed deal have been completed.”
Thursday’s sanctions freeze all US-based assets held by the designated person and generally bar people in the US from doing business with them.