Trump accuses Russia of helping North Korea evade sanctions

Trump accuses Russia of helping North Korea evade sanctions
© Getty

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE accused Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government of helping North Korean leader Kim Jong Un evade sanctions in a new interview published Wednesday by Reuters.

Trump, who has been accused by critics in the past of taking a friendly tone towards Putin and Russia, sharply rebuked Russia's government for filling the gaps created by China's decision to restrict oil and coal supplies to North Korea.

"Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea,” Trump told Reuters. “What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The president went on to blame the souring relationship between Russia and the United States for Putin's willingness to deal with North Korea. Putin, Trump says, could be doing much more to stop North Korea from evading sanctions.

“He can do a lot,” Trump said. “But unfortunately we don’t have much of a relationship with Russia, and in some cases it’s probable that what China takes back, Russia gives. So the net result is not as good as it could be.”

Reuters reported in December that ships carrying fuel left Russia originally bound for other destinations but changed their course to North Korea, a tactic experts say is used to evade sanctions against the sale of fuel to the country.

“North Korea employs deceptive practices to conceal the true origins of these goods. Pyongyang has been found to routinely falsify a vessel’s identity and documentation," Assistant Treasury Secretary Marshall Billingslea told Congress this month.

North Korea relies on fuel imports for the growth of its missile program, which some experts say already has the capability of reaching the U.S. mainland with a nuclear weapon. In the interview, Trump said the country will soon have the ability to strike anywhere in the U.S.

“They’re not there yet, but they’re close. And they get closer every day,” he said.