$9 Million Unfrozen: Russian Bank Sets North Korean Assets Free.

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– Russia has released $9 million in frozen North Korean assets after the isolated country provided Moscow with arms for its war against Ukraine.
– The move appears to meet one of North Korea’s conditions for supplying Russia with missiles and ammunition.

A Russian bank has released $9m in frozen North Korean assets after the country supplied Moscow with arms for its war against Ukraine, according to unnamed Western intelligence officials cited by The New York Times (NYT). The newspaper reported that the release satisfied one of North Korea’s conditions for supplying Russia with weapons. Pyongyang is subject to a range of US and UN sanctions due to its prohibited nuclear weapons tests. The NYT did not identify the bank, but it is thought to have cleared the release of $9m out of $30m held in North Korean assets.

New York sources said that the frozen assets had been thawed in return for the provision by North Korea of missiles and ammunition. The arrangement is believed to have taken place after Russia’s military fired at least one missile in Ukraine. The US publication noted that Pyongyang’s intention is to use the unfrozen money to buy crude oil. In addition, it added, a North Korean front company has established an account at another Russian bank located in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia. This territory is recognised as independent by just a few states and Moscow.

It is unclear whether Moscow has satisfied Pyongyang’s wish to gain advanced satellite technology and nuclear-powered submarines in exchange for the arms provided. Experts cited by the NYT believe it is more likely that Russia favours financial arrangements instead of supplying weapons expertise and nuclear technology to North Korea.

James Brown, professor of political science at Temple University’s Tokyo campus, commented that Russia is able to claim that the financial transactions are conducted through private banks. US officials refused to confirm the details of the Russian-North Korean banking deals.

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