While President Donald Trump accused China of illegally shipping oil to North Korea based on Fox News reporting, Russia was caught by Western European security forces violating U.N. sanctions via ship-to-ship transfers of fuel.
The transfers in October and November indicate that smuggling from Russia to North Korea has evolved to loading cargoes at sea since Reuters reported in September that North Korean ships were sailing directly from Russia to their homeland.
"Russian vessels have made ship-to-ship transfers of petrochemicals to North Korean vessels on several occasions this year in breach of sanctions," the first security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
The Russian-North Korean transfers happened on at least three occasions and may or may not have involved Russian state actors:
A second source, who independently confirmed the existence of the Russian ship-to-ship fuel trade with North Korea, said there was no evidence of Russian state involvement in the latest transfers.
Russia's Foreign Ministry and the Russian Customs Service both declined to comment, The owner of one ship accused of smuggling oil to North Korea denied any such activity.