According to a report from Reuters, surveillance shows that North Korea is being aided by fuel shipments from a major fuel exporter, despite UN sanctions.
The report cites two anonymous sources who say that North Korea is being aided by fuel tankers coming from Russia.
Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea, according to two senior Western European security sources, providing an economic lifeline to the secretive Communist state.
The report says that it is unknown if the Russian government is behind the fuel transfers to North Korea. The sources say that the transfers of fuel violate United Nations sanctions.
“Russian vessels have made ship-to-ship transfers of petrochemicals to North Korean vessels on several occasions this year in breach of sanctions,” said one source.
“There is no evidence that this is backed by the Russian state but these Russian vessels are giving a lifeline to the North Koreans,” the second source said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry and the Russian Customs Service both declined to comment when asked on Wednesday if Russian ships had supplied fuel to North Korean vessels. The owner of one ship accused of smuggling oil to North Korea denied any such activity.
The Trump administration has been strenuously pursuing economic sanctions as a way to find a diplomatic solution to the constant ramping up of nuclear aggression from the "hermit kingdom." Fuel shipments from Russia would severely undercut their efforts while bringing more stress on relations between the U.S. and Russia.
Analysts believe that any military strike against the belligerent state would result in a retaliatory attack on South Korea that could cause hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of civilian casualties.
Trump has said that he is disappointed in the lack of effort by China to reign in North Korea's activities.