Firm making car that Putin gifted to Kim uses South Korean parts, data shows

Last Updated on June 28, 2024 1:56 pm

By Gleb Stolyarov

TBILISI, June 28 (Reuters) – Laughing and joking, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un cruised around Pyongyang last week in a Russian-made Aurus limousine to showcase their strengthened anti-Western alliance.

The luxury sedan was intended to epitomize Russia’s domestic prowess and reduced dependence on imported technology and goods when unveiled in 2018.

But customs records show that the company that builds it uses millions of dollars in imported parts, many arriving in Russia from what Kim has described as his country’s “primary foe”, South Korea.

The imports point to Russia’s ongoing reliance on Western technology as it seeks to navigate Western attempts to cut it off from global supply chains as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine.

The two leaders took turns driving the armoured limousine during Putin’s pomp-filled visit, his first in nearly a quarter of a century to North Korea, in a demonstration of the two nuclear powers’ increasingly close ties.

Russia imported equipment and components worth at least $34 million between 2018 and 2023 for assembling Aurus cars and motorcycles, customs records seen by Reuters showed. Reuters does not have access to more recent data.

The imports included car body parts, sensors, programmable controllers, switches, welding equipment and other components worth almost $15.5 million imported from South Korea. Parts were also imported from China, India, Turkey, Italy and other EU countries.

Foreign supplies for Aurus kept coming after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with goods worth almost $16 million, including $5 million produced in South Korea, imported since February 2022, the records showed.

Reuters could not determine specifically which imported foreign parts ended up in the car gifted to Kim, and the imports were not in breach of sanctions – Aurus LLC was sanctioned by the United States in February, 2024.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *