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Accused of helping Russia buy weapons from North Korea, US takes action against 56-year-old Slovak

Accused of helping Russia buy weapons from North Korea, US takes action against

The United States has imposed sanctions on a Slovakian man suspected of working for Russia in Moscow's efforts to buy weapons and ammunition from North Korea to support its war in Ukraine.

Ashot Mkrtychev, 56, of Bratislava was involved in arranging sales for North Korea to ship weapons and ammunition to Russia between late 2022 and early 2023, the US Treasury Department said.

In return, Pyongyang would receive cash, commercial aircraft, other goods and raw materials, the Treasury said. Mkrtychev worked with officials from both countries to reach the agreements, the US said.

"Mkrtychev's negotiations with North Korea and Russian officials yielded benefits for both sides, including financial payments and arms deals," the US said. "He confirmed Russia's readiness to receive military equipment from North Korea."

The Treasury did not say whether any of these agreements have been implemented or pointed to specific weapons, but said it has imposed sanctions on Mrtychev.

The US said that last year, following an increase in airstrikes in Ukraine, Russia had bought artillery munitions and missiles from North Korea.

The spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, said at the time that North Korea was sending ammunition to Russia, but was disguising the whole thing as allegedly sending weapons to the Middle East or North Africa.

Kirby also said that North Korea has sent weapons to the Russian mercenary group, Wagner, which is fighting in Ukraine.

North Korea has denied US claims that it has sent weapons to Russia. According to the decision, Mkrtychec will be prohibited from doing business in the USA and Americans will be prohibited from doing business with him./ REL

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