U.S. Sanctions Entities Tied to Arms Deals Between North Korea and Russia
American authorities blacklisted Wednesday three entities tied to a sanction evasion network that has facilitated arms deals between Russia and North Korea, arms that have been used in support of the Kremlin’s plans to conquer Ukraine.
As President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine approaches 18 months, the Kremlin has increasingly come to rely on ostracized allies such as North Korea. This comes as Russia’s list of once conventional partners grows ever shorter in the face of escalating global sanctions meant to cripple its ability to continue the war.
Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen remarked back in March that, in a year of fighting, Russia had lost more than 9,000 pieces of heavy military equipment. “And thanks in part to multilateral sanctions and export controls,” she said, “Putin has become increasingly desperate to replace them.”
The latest three entities blacklisted by Washington are Limited Liability Company Verus, Versor S.R.O., and Defense Engineering Limited Liability Partnership.
Versor’s president, Ashot Mkrtychev of Slovakia, was similarly sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury earlier this year for supplying Russian forces with North Korean weapons. Mkrtychev is also Verus’ founder and owner, as well as Defense Engineering’s director.
Between the end of 2022 and early 2023, he worked alongside North Korean officials to supply weapons and munitions for Russian troops. In exchange, goods such as commercial aircraft, raw materials, and other commodities were reportedly to be sent back to the DPRK.
“The United States continues to root out illicit financial networks that seek to channel support from North Korea to Russia’s war machine,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “Alongside our allies and partners, we remain committed to exposing and disrupting the arms trade underpinning Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine.”