The United States government has imposed sanctions on Ashot Mkrtychev, a Slovakian individual allegedly involved in orchestrating a weapons deal between North Korea and Russia. This development comes as the conflict in Ukraine has strained Moscow’s access to military resources.
Ashot Mkrtychev, a Slovakian national, has been accused of negotiating with officials from both Russia and North Korea to establish a relationship based on “mutually beneficial cooperation.” Between 2022 and early 2023, Mkrtychev allegedly arranged for North Korea to supply Russia with more than two dozen types of weapons and munitions. In return, he coordinated the delivery of commercial aircraft, raw materials, and commodities to North Korea.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen highlighted that Russia has lost over 9,000 pieces of heavy military equipment since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict. As a result, Russia has been seeking suppliers like Iran and North Korea to replenish its military resources. The White House also expressed concerns that North Korea could further support Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.
National security spokesperson John Kirby disclosed that Russia is actively seeking additional munitions from North Korea, an action that would violate United Nations Security Council resolutions. The U.S. continues to attempt to isolate Russia economically and diplomatically. However, Russia maintains relationships with various countries that consider it an important ally and trading partner.
The sanctions imposed on Mkrtychev are designed to freeze any U.S.-based assets he may hold and generally prevent individuals in the U.S. from engaging in business dealings with him. The U.S. remains committed to cracking down on Russia’s efforts to evade sanctions and secure military equipment from countries like North Korea, as demonstrated by the actions taken against Mkrtychev.