N. Korea sanctions: Russia ponders retaliatory measures against US

Moscow: Russia was considering its response on Thursday to the US’ expansion of sanctions against Moscow companies over their links to North Korea, the country’s deputy Foreign Minister said.

Sergey Ryabkov told the state news agency Interfax that the new sanctions imposed on the Russian company Profinet and its general manager Vasily Kolchanov for allegedly facilitating the delivery of illicit shipments to the North Korean regime “lacked any basis”.

“Regarding Profinet and Kolchanov, the restrictions were applied as the US tends to do now, without presenting any evidence and on the basis of empty and groundless accusations,” Ryabkov said. “Russian leaders will decide on possible measures in response to this.”

He added that the result of the US broadening “anti-Russian” sanctions due to “pressure by the elites” would be the degradation of bilateral relations, “but Washington doesn’t care about this prospect”, Efe news reported.

“We proceed from the inevitability of a constant expansion of US sanctions,” the Kremlin’s number two diplomat said.

The US Treasury Department on Wednesday sanctioned Profinet and Kolchanov for allegedly “providing port services on at least six occasions to North Korean-flagged ships”, while also slapping restrictions on the Chinese firm Dalian Sun Moon Star and its Singapore-based affiliate, SINSMS, for the sale of cigarettes and alcohol to Pyongyang.

“Treasury will continue to implement existing sanctions on North Korea and will take action to block and designate companies, ports and vessels that facilitate illicit shipments and provide revenue streams to North Korea,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.

The department also accused Kolchanov of being personally involved in the North Korean deals and interacting directly with representatives of the East Asian country’s regime.