Nebenzia commented on the US sanctions on two Russian companies and six vessels, including merchant vessel The Patriot, allegedly for conducting ship-to-ship oil transfers to North Korea.
"On the Patriot oil tanker, the group of experts themselves said the ship was not in violation of the sanctions regime," he told the UN Security Council.
The statement of the Russian official addressed the claims of the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who had urged Moscow to end the violations of sanctions against North Korea and not attempt to hide these breaches of the international rules.
"Russia must cease its violations of North Korea sanctions. It must end its concerted effort to cover up evidence of sanctions violations," Haley stated.
She accused Russia of seeking sanctions relief for North Korea, but said now is not the time to ease pressure on the country. The US envoy argued that sanctions could only be eased after North Korea completes denuclearization, not before.
Haley also noted that Russia had blocked the US attempt to strengthen UN controls of Pyongyang’s chemical and biological weapons technology in 2017, following the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who, according to Malaysian investigators, was killed with the VX nerve agent.
"When North Korea assassinated Kim Jong Nam with VX, a deadly nerve agent, the United States moved to strengthen UN controls of the flow of chemical and biological weapons technology of North Korea," she told the UN Security Council. "Russia… turned around and again blocked the sanctions committee from updating its 12-year-old sanctions list."
The United Nations has introduced multiple sanctions against North Korea in response to its repeated missile launches and nuclear tests. The organization, in particular, has restricted oil exports to Pyongyang, banned imports of textile products from North Korea as well as the country's access to gas liquids.