UK and Allies Impose Sanctions on Russia-DPRK Arms-for-Oil Trade

  • The UK announces new package of sanctions to target the Russia-North Korea (DPRK) 'arms-for-oil' trade, alongside international partners.
  • Three companies and one individual will be subject to a range of measures, including asset freezes, travel bans and transport sanctions.
  • New sanctions show Russia that it will fail in trying to hide its illicit partnership with the DPRK, following its veto of the mandate of the DPRK UN Panel of Experts.

The UK alongside international partners has today announced a new package of sanctions to target Russian and North Korean (DPRK) attempts to contravene or circumvent UN sanctions with its 'arms for oil' trade.

The sanctions highlight the joint malign efforts of Russia and the DPRK to circumvent sanctions on petroleum products, which help facilitate the DPRK's unlawful military programmes.

UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said:

Putin is straining every sinew to sustain his illegal war in Ukraine, even resorting to illicit 'arms-for-oil' trade deals with the DPRK, blatantly violating UN sanctions that Russia itself voted for, and vetoing UN Monitoring panels that report on their activity.

We cannot - and we will not - stay silent as the DPRK and Russia engage in arms transfers. The UK will continue to hold the DPRK and Russia to account. We will work with our partners to protect the global non-proliferation regime and international peace and security.

The announcement comes after Russia's veto of the mandate renewal for the United Nations Security Council's 1718 Committee Panel of Experts, which had been responsible for monitoring DPRK sanctions implementation, compliance and enforcement.

This is another example of Russia's flagrant support to the DPRK in breach of UN sanctions, in support of its own illegal war in Ukraine.

Today's sanctions package includes the designation of:

  • DPRK company Paekyangsan Shipping Co Ltd, which operates DPRK-flagged vessel Paek Yang San 1, involved in the facilitation of DPRK military programmes by transferring petroleum products between Russia and DPRK.
  • Toplivo Bunkering Company (TBK) and company director Aleksey Mikhailovich Vorotnikov, for allowing vessels involved in the transfer of petroleum to DPRK to bunker in the Russian port of Vostochny.
  • Vostochnaya Stevedoring Co LLC, operating from the port of Vostochny, which is a prominent Russian provider of cargo services within the Russian transport industry.
  • Aleksey Mikhailovich Vorotnikov will be subject to an asset freeze and travel ban, Paekyangsan Shipping Co Ltd subject to an asset freeze and transport sanction, and Toplivo Bunkering Company is subject to an asset freeze. Vostochnaya Stevedoring Co LLC is subject to an asset freeze and trust services sanction.

The sanctions package reinforces the fact that Russia will not succeed in keeping its illicit partnership with the DPRK hidden, following its UN Panel of Experts veto.

The 1718 Committee's Panel of Experts mandate expired on 30 April 2024 following Russia's veto of the mandate renewal. The Panel provided credible, objective, and independent reporting which enabled the international community to monitor the implementation of UN sanctions and helped to prevent North Korea's unlawful and dangerous development of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. This action undermined resolutions Russia previously voted for, designed to protect the non-proliferation regime and international peace and security.

The UK's new sanctions are part of coordinated action with our international partners. The US announced its package on Thursday (16 May) and further announcements from partners are expected today (Friday 17 May).


  • This package includes four designations in total: three designations under the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (Paekyangsan Shipping Co Ltd, TBK, Aleksey Mikhailovich Vorotnikov), and one designation under the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (Vostochnaya Stevedoring Co LLC).

Asset freeze

An asset freeze prevents any UK citizen, or any business in the UK, from dealing with any funds or economic resources which are owned, held or controlled by the designated person. UK financial sanctions apply to all persons within the territory and territorial sea of the UK and to all UK persons, wherever they are in the world. It also prevents funds or economic resources being provided to or for the benefit of the designated person.

Travel ban

A travel ban means that the designated person must be refused leave to enter or to remain in the United Kingdom, providing the individual is an excluded person under section 8B of the Immigration Act 1971.

Transport sanctions

Where a transport sanction applies, a ship owned, controlled, chartered or operated by a designated person is prohibited from entering a port in the UK, and may be given a movement or a port entry direction.

Trust services sanctions

Trust services sanctions mean it is generally prohibited within the UK, and for UK persons outside the UK, to provide trusts services to or for the benefit of a designated person. Trusts services means (1) the creation of a trust or similar arrangement, (2) the provision of a registered office, business address, correspondence address or administrative address for a trust or similar arrangement, (3) the operation or management of a trust or similar arrangement, or (4) acting or arranging for another person to act as trustee of a trust or similar arrangement, where "trustee", in relation to an arrangement similar to a trust, means a person who holds an equivalent or similar position to a trustee of a trust.

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