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New US sanctions aim to punish Russia for stance on Korean settlement — Foreign Ministry

August 16, 2018, 23:40 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"The focus of American politicians on restrictions is an attempt to conceal their uselessness," the ministry stressed

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Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow

Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow

© Sergei Savostyanov/TASS

MOSCOW, August 16./TASS/. By imposing new sanctions, the US is trying to punish Russia for its committed position on the Korean settlement, including within the framework of the UN Security Council, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a communique on Thursday after Russia’s Profinet Company and its general manager had been blacklisted.

"Washington did not bother to present any proof or at least to comment on the motives behind its decision. Behind Washington’s new anti-Russian actions we see an attempt to ‘punish’ our country for its principled position on the North Korean subject, including within the framework of the UN Security Council," the Foreign Ministry stressed.

It expressed regrets that the sanctions were imposed at the moment when the settlement of the task to denuclearize the Korean peninsula needs hard joint work of the international community. "Destructive tactics of the US, applied outside the framework of the UN Security Council and its 1718 Sanctions Committee, is capable of undermining progress achieved over the recent time towards the settlement," the ministry said.

"We are coming to the conclusion that Washington does not realize how dangerous is the dogged policy to exert maximum pressure on Pyongyang," the ministry said.

It said the 55th "sanctions wave" of the US against Russia does not make the sanctions legitimate. "The focus of American politicians on restrictions is an attempt to conceal their uselessness," the ministry stressed.

"Anyway, stepping up restrictions against the backdrop of unprecedented Russo-phobic sentiment without looking back at real facts and consequences for bilateral relations - is the dead-end road," the ministry summed up.

On Wednesday, the United States expanded its sanction list related to North Korea, adding Russia’s Profinet Company and its general manager Vasily Kolchanov. One Chinese company and one Singaporean company were also added to the list.

The strictest regime of sanctions is currently in effect against North Korea, providing for financial sanctions, the ban on supplies of rocket fuel and dual-purpose equipment and materials, and exports of coal, iron, lead and other products from the country. Sanctions were toughened last time on December 22.

The Profinet Company blacklisted by the US for providing port services to North Korean-flagged vessels, calls the sanctions unlawful, the company’s Director General Vasily Kolchanov told TASS on Thursday, adding that the company had not violated any restrictions.

According to a statement of the US Department of the Treasury, Profinet, which "provides loading, bunkering, supplying, and departure arrangements for vessels calling at the Russian ports of Nakhodka, Vostochny, Vladivostok, and Slavyanka… has provided port services on at least six separate occasions to DPRK-flagged vessels, including the sanctioned vessels Chon Myong 1 and Rye Song Gang 1, which have carried thousands of metric tons of refined oil products." "Profinet continued to offer its bunkering services to DPRK-flagged vessels even after its employees knew of oil-related sanctions on North Korea. Kolchanov was personally involved in North Korea-related deals and interacted directly with North Korean representatives in Russia," the US Treasury Department added.

"We believe that our company has been sanctioned illegally," Kolchanov said. "The US documents mention North Korean vessels Chon Myong 1 and Rye Song Gang 1 that last called at our ports in May and June 2017. They did not take any load and left, while our company only recorded their arrival and departure. However, the US imposed sanctions only in the autumn on 2017, that is, six months after the vessels’ last call," the Profinet director general added.

According to him, US sanctions will not harm the company directly as it does not have any accounts in foreign banks. However, other companies will now prefer to refrain from cooperating with Profinet, which may bring its activities to a standstill. "We are a small business, we don’t earn millions of dollars. This is why we just can’t go to the US, hire lawyers there and oppose these sanctions," Kolchanov noted.

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