US sanctions two Russian shippers for alleged N Korea sanction-busting

The US has announced sanctions on two Russian shipping companies and six vessels that the US Treasury has said were involved in the transfer of refined petroleum products to North Korean vessels, violating UN restrictions.

The US identified the shipping firms as Vladivostok-based Primorye Maritime Logistics Co Ltd (Primorye) and Gudzon Shipping Co LLC (Gudzon). It also named six Russian-flagged vessels: Bella, Bogatyr, Neptun, Partizan, Patriot and Sevastopol.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov promised that Russia would respond. He called the sanctions, and other US actions over alleged hacking, groundless.

The US Treasury said on August 21st that Russian ship Patriot conducted two ship-to-ship transfers of oil in early 2018: on of 1,500 tons to the North Korea-flagged Chong Rim 2 and another of 2,000 tons to the North Korea-flagged Chon Ma San.

It said the buyer was the Taesong Bank, a North Korean entity subordinate to the Workers’ Party of Korea Office 39, “which engages in illicit economic activities for the North Korean leadership.”

Taesong Bank has already been sanctioned by both the UN and US.

Meanwhile, The US on August 21st imposed sanctions on two Russians, a Russian marine company and a Slovakian company for what the US said were their actions in helping Russian company Divetechnoservices avoid sanctions over Russia’s malicious cyber-related activities.

Andrei Kuklin, head of St Petersburg-based Vela Marine ,told Reuters, “Unfortunately I cannot comment. I don’t understand what the problem is.”