VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday the geopolitical climate had changed completely since the United Nations imposed sanctions on North Korea, and he accused the West of breaking pledges on humanitarian support for Pyongyang.
Lavrov was speaking to a Russian TV reporter as President Vladimir Putin hosted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a summit in Russia’s far east. Since 2006 North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions, which Russia supported, over its banned nuclear weapons and missile programmes.
“Sanctions against North Korea were adopted in a completely different geopolitical situation when there were problems establishing dialogue (with Pyongyang), when there were quite serious debates in the Security Council,” Lavrov told Russian TV reporter Pavel Zarubin.
He said the reason that Russia and China had blocked a further U.S.-drafted sanctions resolution against North Korea last year was that the West had given a false promise at the time of the original sanctions on humanitarian aid for the country.
“That was another lie. We, the Chinese and the North Koreans were deceived,” Lavrov said.
In a separate clip posted by Zarubin on social media, the reporter raised the sanctions issue again with Lavrov and asked him to comment on Western media reports that the Putin-Kim meeting could lead to Russia supplying arms to North Korea, or vice versa.
Lavrov did not reply directly, but said the West had broken contractual agreements by providing Soviet-era weaponry to Ukraine – a reference to arms supplied to Kyiv by central and eastern European countries which once belonged to the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact but which are now members of NATO.
Lavrov said this violated “every possible contractual obligation” because the weapons had been originally supplied by Moscow with end-user certificates that prevented them from being transferred to third parties.
Lavrov’s assertion that sanctions on North Korea were the product of a different global situation and of bad faith from untrustworthy Western powers were significant at a moment when Russia’s own adherence to them is under close scrutiny.
Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia maintained its commitments as a member of the U.N. Security Council but this would not be an obstacle to developing its relations with North Korea.
(Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Gareth Jones)