Russian tankers reportedly smuggling oil to North Korea

Trump has been silent, though one day earlier, he blasted China for the same thing.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at a November APEC Summit. CREDIT: Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

On Thursday, President Donald Trump accused China of “allowing oil to go into North Korea.” In a tweet, he claimed that China had been “caught RED HANDED [sic].”

China rejected the claims, disputing Trump’s evidence and asserting that Trump’s tone was “not how a U.S. President should behave.”


At the time, a person identified as a “senior State Department official” explained to CNN that “certain vessels have engaged in UN-prohibited activities, including ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum and the transport of coal from North Korea.” The source noted that some of those vessels “are owned by companies in several countries, including China.”

But Friday evening, Reuters reported that at least one of those countries is one that Trump has generally refused to criticize: Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

According to the wire service, “two senior Western European security sources” claim that Russian tankers have transferred fuel cargo at sea to North Korea at least three times over the past few months, an apparent violation of United Nations sanctions.

Since Reuters posted its story late on Friday afternoon, Trump and his press secretary have tweeted virtually identical statements about Iran, but said nothing about Russia’s apparent involvement in exactly what he accused China of doing.