South Korean media and the U.S. Treasury reported that a Slovak national attempted to facilitate an arms deal between the Russian Federation and North Korea. The State Department report reads below:
“OFAC is designating a Slovakian national Ashot Mkrtychev (Mkrtychev) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13551 for having attempted to, directly or indirectly, import, export, or reexport to, into, or from the DPRK any arms or related materiel.
Between the end of 2022 and early 2023, Mkrtychev worked with DPRK officials to obtain over two dozen kinds of weapons and munitions for Russia in exchange for materials ranging from commercial aircraft, raw materials, and commodities to be sent to the DPRK. Mkrtychev’s negotiations with DPRK and Russian officials detailed mutually beneficial cooperation between North Korea and Russia to include financial payments and barter arrangements. He confirmed Russia’s readiness to receive military equipment from the DPRK with senior Russian officials. Mkrtychev’s negotiations with those officials indicated that necessary Russian preparations for a proposed deal were complete, and that they were ready to receive materials from and transfer materials to the DPRK. He also provided DPRK officials with information from Russian officials, likely connected to his attempts to obtain military equipment for Russia from DPRK. Lastly, Mkrtychev worked with a Russian individual to locate commercial aircraft suitable for delivery to the DPRK.”
The U.S. Treasury also declared that:
“As a result of today’s action, pursuant to E.O. 13551, all property and interests in property of the person named above that are in the United States, or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked person are also blocked.
In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individual designated today may themselves be exposed to designation. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for the individual designated today could be subject to U.S. correspondent or payable-through account sanctions.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Yellen added:
“Russia has lost over 9,000 pieces of heavy military equipment since the start of the war, and thanks in part to multilateral sanctions and export controls, Putin has become increasingly desperate to replace them….schemes like the arms deal pursued by this individual show that Putin is turning to suppliers of last resort like Iran and the DPRK. We remain committed to degrading Russia’s military-industrial capabilities, as well as exposing and countering Russian attempts to evade sanctions and obtain military equipment from the DPRK or any other state that is prepared to support its war in Ukraine.”
There have been no indications of ramifications of North Korean and Russian actors who were working with Mkrtychev, possibly indicating these individuals were already sanctioned.