Advertisement

Russia says new South Korean sanctions are 'unfriendly', will respond

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov holds a news conference, in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia considers South Korea's decision to impose sanctions against Russian individuals and entities as an unfriendly move and will respond in due course, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

South Korea has imposed sanctions against two Russian vessels which it says were carrying military cargo to North Korea. Seoul said on Tuesday it had also sanctioned two Russian organisations and two Russian citizens linked to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.

"This is an unfriendly move by Seoul and is deeply regrettable. The imposition of - I emphasise - illegitimate sanctions will have a negative impact on relations with Russia," Zakharova told reporters at her weekly briefing.

"Russia is developing good neighbourly ties with friendly North Korea in accordance with the norms of international law, without harming the national security of (South Korea)," she added.

Ties between Moscow and Pyongyang have strengthened following North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's visit to Russia's far east last year.

Last week Russia vetoed the annual renewal of a panel of experts monitoring enforcement of United Nations sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

The U.S. has accused North Korea of transferring weapons to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine. Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied the accusations, but vowed last year to deepen military relations.

Seoul did not have a problem with ties between North Korea and Russia, South Korea's foreign ministry spokesman Lim Soo-suk said.

"As the Russian side itself states, Russia-North Korea cooperation must be conducted in compliance of Security Council resolutions and international laws and in a way that does not adversely affect our security," he told a briefing.

South Korea continues to work on its ties with Moscow, Lim said, adding: "We urge Russia to make sensible efforts as well."

As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia had voted to adopt multiple sanctions resolutions against the North until 2017 including bans on weapons trade, caps on supply of fuel and expulsion of North Korean workers.

Zakharova on Wednesday reiterated that Moscow remained committed to U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea "in their entirety" but added that sanctions on Pyongyang were not working as intended.

"It is clearly seen that endless sanctions are completely useless for achieving the designated goals. They lead to a financial and economic blockade of an entire state with all the ensuing consequences for the population," she said.

Zakharova accused the United States of seeking to foment "instability" on the Korean peninsula.

"South Korea apparently lacks the immunity to protect itself from Washington's external influence," she added.

(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov; Editing by Gareth Jones and Stephen Coates)