Russian Ships Accused of Selling Fuel to North Korea

Details on What Is Being Transferred Uncertain

Adding to the allegations coming from unnamed Western sources of North Korean sanctions violations, officials are now accusing a pair of private, Russia-flagged ships of having sold fuel to North Korean vessels on the open sea, and are saying this violates UN sanctions.

Details on what was sold and how much of it are scant, and one such instance saw the ship in question only carrying crude oil, which would not be illegal to sell to North Korea in the first place. The officials behind the allegations say there is no evidence of Russian government knowledge or involvement.

Everything centers around a pair of cargo ships, one identified as the Vityaz, which are operating out of Yladivostok, on the Russian Pacific coast. The officials claim they’ve repeatedly been caught on satellite doing ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean vessels on satellite, though obviously this again makes it unclear what they’re transferring, and presumptions that it is refined petrochemicals, which are severely limited under UN sanctions, seem unverified.

The Vityaz at least once appears to have gone out telling the Russian government their destination was a Russian fishing fleet in the Sea of Japan, but ended up meeting a Korean tanker instead, one which had its transponder off. The owner of the ship denied any wrongdoing.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of