Putin Breaks UN Sanctions By Gifting Kim Jong Un A Luxury Limo

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Vladimir Putin gave Kim Jong Un a luxury limousine — made in Russia, with love, of course — the kind officially used by Russian heads of state. The North Korean dictator’s entourage confirmed the gift Tuesday, according to Russian state media, which claims Kim Jong Un is the first leader to receive an Aurus Senat limo from Putin. The international community is balking at the gift, calling it a flagrant violation of sanctions placed on North Korea by the United Nations Security Council, on which Russia sits as a permanent member, as the Associated Press reports.

The UN Security Council prohibited the export of certain goods to North Korea in an effort to stymie the country’s nuclear program. Luxury cars like the Aurus Senat are among those sanctioned goods, but it didn’t stop Putin from giving Kim Jong Un the same model of limousine that he used at his inauguration in 2018. From the Associated Press:

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin gave Kim Jong Un a high-end Aurus Senat limousine that he showed to the North Korean leader when they met for a summit in Russia in September. Kim was shown the Aurus limousine at Russia’s main spaceport.

Kim “liked the car, and so the decision was made” to present it to him as a gift, Peskov said, according to Russia’s state-run Tass news agency. “North Korea is our neighbor, our close neighbor.”

Tass earlier reported that Aurus was the first Russian luxury car brand, and it’s been used in motorcades of top officials since Putin first used an Aurus limousine during his inauguration ceremony in 2018.

Kim, 40, is known to possess many foreign-made luxury cars believed to have been smuggled into his country in breach of the U.N. resolution.

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Kim’s possession of expensive foreign limousines shows the porousness of international sanctions on the North. Russia, a permanent Security Council member, voted for the ban on supplying luxury goods to North Korea, along with other international sanctions adopted in response to the North’s nuclear and missile tests.

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Despite Russia’s status as a member country of the UNSC (no relation to the governing body from the Halo video games) Putin disregarded the sanctions his own country voted for as part of a recent push to strengthen ties between Russia and North Korea.

Their cooperation has other member countries of the Security Council worried, and the BBC reports that some have accused the DPRK of supplying Russia with weapons that are being used in its invasion of Ukraine. North Korea also stands to gain by currying favor from Putin, as that would keep the flow of foreign cars going and it could help free North Korea from China’s influence, per CNN:

Russia has repeatedly fired North Korean-supplied short-range ballistic missiles at Ukrainian targets in recent weeks. Meanwhile, US officials fear that North Korea may be able to use a tighter relationship with Russia to loosen China’s influence, potentially removing what some believe has been an important handbrake on Pyongyang’s nuclear testing program.

Putin’s gift potentially violates United Nations sanctions imposed on North Korea for its nuclear weapons program, though the ban on luxury goods sales to the country has not prevented Kim from appearing in a range of high-end vehicles over the years.

The North Korean leader is often seen being chauffeured in what’s believed to be a Mercedes-Maybach Pullman Guard armored limousine, worth upwards of $1 million.

In 2018, he arrived at a meeting with US officials in a black Rolls-Royce. Earlier that year, two armored Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guard vehicles were shipped from the Netherlands to North Korea, likely for Kim’s use, according to the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies.

The center also reported that Pyongyang imported more than 800 luxury vehicles in the period from 2015 to 2017 alone – the majority originating from Russian companies.

Kim Jong Un travels mostly by train, but has a known penchant for luxury automobiles, among them vehicles from Mercedes-Maybach and Rolls Royce. The Aurus Senat is hardly as renowned or even recognized as the luxury cars that make up Kim Jong Un’s private stable, which travel with him when the North Korean Supreme Leader goes abroad.

The Aurus Senat is a Russian-made machine from a relatively young brand. Aurus has been in business since 2018, when the marque debuted as a luxury automaker that would produce vehicles used by the Russian brass and its wealthiest citizens. Bloomberg calls Aurus cars knockoffs of Rolls-Royce machines, and goes on to say the Senat Putin gifted Kim Jong Un is probably one of his least-expensive cars. Reuters reported the Senat was priced at ₽18 million, or just over $194,500 at current exchange rates, when Aurus began its sales in 2019.

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