In late September 2018, South Korean authorities held the Russia-flagged Sevastopol vessel in Busan on suspicion of violating US sanctions. On October 1, Moscow summoned South Korea’s ambassador in Moscow to demand that Seoul “immediately” release the vessel. South Korea allowed the Sevastopol to leave the port the following day.
The Sevastopol and five other Russia-flagged vessels were sanctioned by the US on August 21 along with Russia-based shipping companies Primorye Maritime Logistics Co Ltd and Gudzon Shipping Co LLC for their involvement in “the ship-to-ship transfer of refined petroleum products with North Korea-flagged vessels, an activity expressly prohibited by the UN Security Council.”
According to the US Treasury, one of the sanctioned vessels, the Patriot, “conducted two ship-to-ship transfers of oil for the benefit of North Korea” in early 2018. The US said that the ultimate buyer of the oil was North Korea’s Taesong Bank.
Earlier in August, the US Department of the Treasury sanctioned Russia-based Profinet Pte. Ltd. and its director general, Vasili Aleksandrovich Kolchanov, for their involvement “in facilitating illicit shipments on behalf of North Korea.”
According to the designation statement, Russia-based Profinet Pte. Ltd. “provided port services on at least six separate occasions to DPRK-flagged vessels . . . which have carried thousands of metric tons of refined oil products.”
The statement added that Kolchanov “was personally involved in North Korea-related deals and interacted directly with North Korean representatives in Russia.” Kolchanov, for his part, admitted in a media interview that he “often does business with North Korea,” but insisted he had not acted illegally.