President Donald Trump Wednesday accused Russia of supporting North Korea and bypassing international sanctions against the regime.
“Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea,” Trump said during an interview with Reuters. “What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.”
The president said Russian President Vladimir Putin “can do a lot” when it comes to North Korea’s threat, but the Kremlin’s actions are not helpful.
Trump praised China, a key economic partner of North Korea, on its progress to cut back coal and oil imports from Pyongyang. Trump noted that more can be done.
Both China and Russia voted at the United Nations Security Council in favor of new broad sanctions against the rogue communist regime on the Korean Peninsula in December following the launch a ballistic missile that could possibly reach anywhere on the U.S. mainland.
Previous sanctions, supported by all members of the U.N Security Council, also limited oil exports to North Korea. But the Russian efforts to comply with the sanctions regime came under scrutiny after news reports suggested Russian tankers transferred fuel to North Korean tankers at sea last year.
North Korea relies heavily on imported fuel and oil as its state-dominated economy continues to struggle while the nuclear weapons program demands excessive resources.
The Kremlin has not yet issued a response to Trump’s accusations, but assured last year that the country has “fully and strictly observed the sanctions regime.”
Trump told Reuters that he would be open to sit down the North Korean leader, but remained skeptical whether “sitting down will solve the problem,” adding that he hopes the standoff could be solved “in a peaceful way, but it’s very possible that it can’t.”
He refused to reveal whether he has any contact with the communist leader. White House chief of staff John Kelly also declined to comment Wednesday night whether the president is in touch with Kim.
“There are open channels but I would prefer not to comment,” Kelly told Bret Baier on “Special Report.”. “There are a lot of people trying to help out here.
When asked about a possible military action against North Korea, Trump declined to discuss any such suggestion. “We’re playing a very, very hard game of poker and you don’t want to reveal your hand,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.