Russian luxury car gift to North Korea likely violates U.N. sanctions, says U.S.

Russia's gift of a luxury car to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un likely violated U.N. sanctions, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. File Photo by Kremlin Pool/UPI
Russia's gift of a luxury car to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un likely violated U.N. sanctions, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. File Photo by Kremlin Pool/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Russia likely violated U.N. sanctions when President Vladimir Putin gave a luxury car to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a U.S. State Department spokesman said, joking that Kim should have gotten an "extended warranty."

North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported the gift on Tuesday. Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader's sister, called the car a "clear demonstration of the special relations of friendship between the top leaders of the DPRK and Russia."


The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

While the KCNA report supplied no details about the vehicle, the Kremlin later confirmed it was a Russian-made Aurus Senat, the country's first luxury car brand.

On a September visit by Kim to Russia, Putin showed off his personal Aurus Senat limousine to the North Korean leader, who sat in the back seat.


"When the leader of the DPRK was at the Vostochny cosmodrome, he looked at this car, Putin showed it himself and, of course, like many, he liked this car," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

Asked about the gift at a press briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, "I actually, frankly, didn't know there was such a thing as a Russian luxury car."

"I hope Kim got the extended warranty," Miller joked. "I'm not sure, if I were buying a luxury car, Russia would be the place I would look."

Miller said the gift likely violated a U.N. Security Council resolution banning the export of luxury goods to North Korea.

"U.N. Security Council resolutions do require all U.N. member states to prohibit both the supply of transportation vehicles and the supply of luxury automobiles to the DPRK," Miller said. "And if this is true, it would appear to be once again Russia violating U.N. Security Council resolutions that it itself supported."

Russia brushed off a similar sanctions violation allegation that had been raised by South Korea on Tuesday.


"If Seoul has questions about 'compliance with U.N. sanctions' on the DPRK, then it should contact the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee instead of running to the microphones," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a Telegram post.

"It would also be interesting to know what pressure Washington is putting on Seoul to disrupt lawfully existing trade relations with other countries," she added.

Moscow and Pyongyang have grown closer since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with several high-level official exchanges in recent months, including Kim's rare overseas trip to Russia.

Washington and Seoul say that the relationship revolves around an illicit arms trade, with North Korea supplying artillery and missiles to Russia while likely receiving advanced technology for its own weapons and space program in return.

"We will continue to use all of our relevant tools -- export controls, sanctions, interdiction and law enforcement actions -- to prevent the DPRK from acquiring sensitive items and technology that it can use in its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs," Miller said on Wednesday. "That includes preventing Russia from acquiring weapons and other sensitive items."

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