Russian Ship Still Stranded in South Korea amid U.S. Sanctions Row


A Russian ship that was caught breaking U.S. sanctions against North Korea is still stranded in the South Korean port of Busan, as local oil companies are refusing to provide the fuel necessary for its voyage home, Radio Free Asia reports.

The Sevastopol, owned by Vladivostok-based Gudzon Shipping, has been moored in the port for more than a month. It is one of six ships operated by the company that was put on a U.S. Treasury blacklist after Gudzon was suspected of having violated sanctions imposed on North Korea in an effort to reduce funds for its nuclear weapons program.

On Wednesday, the South Korean government acknowledged that the ship is under U.S. sanctions and said the ship has been stranded.

In an interview Thursday with RFA’s Korean Service, Gudzon’s Vice President, who only identified himself by his given name Aleksey, explained that the fuel providers are worried that they will be hit with a secondary boycott for assisting an individual or a company that has done illicit business with North Korea.

“The Sevastopol is now stuck in Busan. It’s trying to return to Russia but there’s no fuel,” Aleksey said.

“[South] Korean companies are refusing to supply fuel to us. It’s a huge problem,” he added.

“The big [South] Korean oil companies like GS Caltex and Hyundai Oilbank won’t deal with us because of the U.S. sanctions on all our vessels. We understand their reasoning: They just don’t want to get in trouble,” Aleksey said.

The vice president said the company would attempt to find other sources of fuel, perhaps from smaller oil companies.

On November 20, an RFA report citing data from the ship tracking website MarineTraffic confirmed that the Sevastopol entered Busan’s port in September and was detained for investigation by the South Korean government for sanctions violations.