Putin Reluctant To Cut Off North Korean Oil Supplies
By Tsvetana Paraskova
Amid rising tension over North Korea’s nuclear tests, South Korea’s president has pleaded with Russia to help it with its push to cut off oil supplies to Pyongyang’s regime, but Russian President Vladimir Putin is urging for diplomacy, saying that sanctions and pressure won’t work, while stopping oil supply would have a worrying impact on regular North Koreans.
“We too, are against North Korea developing its nuclear capabilities and condemn it, but it is worrying cutting the oil pipeline will harm the regular people, like in hospitals,” Putin said at his meeting with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday, according to a readout from a South Korean presidential official, as carried by Reuters.
“Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programme is a flagrant violation of the UN Security Council resolution, it undermines the non-proliferation regime and poses a threat to security in Northeast Asia,” Putin said in press statements after meeting with Moon, as the Kremlin reports.
“At the same time, it is obvious that the Korean problems cannot be settled with sanctions and pressure alone. We must not yield to emotions or try to drive North Korea into a corner. Now is the time for all of us to summon the presence of mind and to avoid taking steps that could escalate tensions,” Putin added.
Yesterday, Putin said that Russia sends only 40,000 tons of oil and petrochemicals per quarter to North Korea, which, compared to exports of over 400 million tons of oil and petrochemicals to the global market, is “as good as nothing”.
“Moreover, none of our large vertically integrated companies exports anything to North Korea,” Putin said at a press briefing posted on the Kremlin website.
China and Russia have been supporting a ‘freeze for freeze’ plan in which the U.S. and South Korea would stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea suspending its nuclear weapons programs.Related: Post Harvey: Crude Climbs As Gasoline Crashes
A day after North Korea claimed that it tested a hydrogen bomb, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said at an emergency UN Security Council Briefing on North Korea that the freeze-for-freeze plan was “insulting”. Referring to North Korea sanctions, Haley said “enough is enough” for half measures, and “We must now adopt the strongest possible measures.”
Tensions continue to escalate and on Tuesday, a senior North Korean diplomat was quoted as saying that Pyongyang was ready to send “more gift packages” to the United States.