US slaps sanctions on entities over alleged arms deals between North Korea, Russia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on three entities it accused of being tied to arms deals between North Korea and Russia as Washington cracked down on those seeking to support Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said that Russia has increasingly been forced to turn to North Korea and other allies to sustain its war in Ukraine as it expends munitions and loses heavy equipment on the battlefield.

The action is the latest by Washington, which has imposed rafts of sanctions targeting Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin since the start of the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and turned cities to rubble.

“The United States continues to root out illicit financial networks that seek to channel support from North Korea to Russia’s war machine,” Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.

“Alongside our allies and partners, we remain committed to exposing and disrupting the arms trade underpinning Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine.”

Russia’s embassy in Washington and North Korea’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The entities targeted in Wednesday’s action are Limited Liability Company Verus, Defense Engineering Limited Liability Partnership and Versor S.R.O.

The Treasury said Slovakian national Ashot Mkrtychev, already under U.S. sanctions, is the president of Versor, founder and owner of Verus and director of Defense Engineering.

Washington accused Mkrtychev of negotiating with North Korean and Russian officials to organize potential plans to transfer over two dozens kinds of weapons and munitions to Russia in exchange for goods to North Korea.

Wednesday’s action freezes any US assets of those designated and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those that engage in certain transactions with the sanctioned entities can also be hit with punitive measures.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)