U.S. expresses concern over Russia’s reported assistance to North Korea amid frozen assets release

A U.S. State Department spokesperson expressed deep concern Thursday over a media report that Russia has allowed the release of millions of dollars in frozen North Korean assets and may be helping the North with access to international banking networks.

Amid reports of Russia’s purported assistance to North Korea, particularly in releasing frozen assets and potentially aiding the North in accessing international banking networks, the U.S. State Department has voiced deep concern over the matter. The revelation, highlighted in a report by The New York Times, underscores ongoing cooperation between Russia and North Korea, raising alarms regarding the implications for regional stability and efforts to curb North Korea’s illicit activities.

Russia has reportedly allowed the release of millions of dollars in frozen North Korean assets, a move that has drawn scrutiny from American-allied intelligence officials. The release of funds, amounting to $9 million out of $30 million held in a Russian financial institution, has prompted concerns about Russia’s role in circumventing international sanctions and providing financial support to North Korea.

Vedant Patel, the U.S. State Department’s deputy spokesperson, expressed deep concern over Russia’s actions, particularly in light of the North’s transfer of weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine. Patel emphasized the need for continuous monitoring of the situation, citing a clear track record of cooperation between North Korea and Russia. The ongoing assistance from Russia raises questions about the effectiveness of international sanctions and diplomatic efforts aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and illicit activities.

In addition to concerns over financial assistance, Patel criticized remarks made by a Russian diplomat suggesting that North Korea might conduct another nuclear test in response to perceived provocations from the United States. The remarks, made by Russian Ambassador to Pyongyang Alexander Matsegora, were deemed “destabilizing” and “risky,” further exacerbating tensions in the region.

Amidst growing concerns about North Korean provocations, Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, reiterated the U.S.’s commitment to monitoring the situation closely. While he stated that there were no imminent attacks from North Korea, Ryder emphasized the importance of working closely with South Korea and Japan to ensure regional security and stability.

The reported assistance from Russia to North Korea and the subsequent expressions of concern from the United States highlight the complex geopolitical dynamics in the region. As efforts continue to address North Korea’s nuclear program and provocative behaviour, the role of key players like Russia remains a significant factor in shaping the outcome of diplomatic negotiations and regional security efforts.