North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur on September 13, 2023.
Vladimir Smirnov/Getty Images
Putin fears an arms deal with Kim Jong Un could threaten his sanction-evasion schemes, war experts say.
But he said there are “opportunities” for cooperation despite the “current rules”.
Russia has gotten better at evading sanctions with new trade routes and loopholes, experts say.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is worried that an arms deal with North Korea could put Russia’s sanction-evasion schemes in jeopardy, experts say.
According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Putin is likely trying to cast his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vladivostok as “neutral” out of fear that a possible trade deal could trigger a new wave of Western sanctions.
Putin met his North Korean counterpart on Tuesday in a likely effort to seek a weapons deal with North Korea, with the Russian army running out of ammunition and other equipment, US officials told The New York Times last week.
The meeting between the two leaders came amid “increased international scrutiny of Russian sanctions evasion,” the ISW said.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Western countries have been imposing sanctions on Russia to further weaken its economy and war chest, which have had “hard tangible effects,” according to the EU’s foreign policy chief.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, recently cited Russia’s financial strain and its degrading industrial and technological capacity as evidence that sanctions are working.
But researchers from the Atlantic Council noted that Russia has become better at evading sanctions through elaborate schemes, allowing it to import some US-made technology to make weapons.
Neighboring states, online retailers, and a network of fake companies have allowed the Kremlin to keep an ongoing supply of missiles, according to reports.
The ISW cited a Russian media report that said that after the meeting, Putin stated that Russia continues to comply with restrictions on military-technical cooperation with North Korea while noting that within the “framework of the current rules, there are opportunities.”