Fourth of July was a bad day for Washington’s policy toward North Korea, and not just because of the fact that Pyongyang successfully launched an Intercontinental ballistic missile. That day also held a meeting in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart XI Jinping (Xi Jinping). During this meeting, they issued a joint statement about their support for the efforts to de-escalate the Korean conflict — a simultaneous freeze of North Korean programs to develop nuclear weapons and missiles and the suspension of large-scale American and South Korean military exercises.
Washington continues to insist on a different approach. The last few months, it strengthens the rhetorical pressure on Beijing to help close the North Korean nuclear and missile programs. Last week, after the administration of Donald trump is beginning to come to the conclusion that China, acting independently, cannot or does not want to resolve the nuclear standoff — Washington imposed sanctions against several Chinese individuals and companies suspected of doing business with the DPRK.
However, the administration of the trump is also making efforts to engage Russia in the process of finding solutions. After may, the North Korean rocket fell near the shores of the Russian Pacific port of Vladivostok, the administration issued a statement which said: “After the rocket fell so close to Russian soil — in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan — the President can not imagine what Russia is like.”
In truth, Moscow is very worried about North Korean missiles, although it would prefer that the Korean Peninsula was a nuclear-free zone. Russia believes that the only solution to the Korean dispute are in talks with Pyongyang, which are security guarantees for the regime of Kim Jong-UN (Kim Jong Un). Moscow supports the idea of introducing restrictions on the nuclear programme of the DPRK, but is wary of imposing sanctions and strongly opposed to regime change. This causes contradictions between Russia and the United States and is a major obstacle to international efforts.
One of the reasons that Russia prefers a more conciliatory policy toward Pyongyang, is personal interest. In may (the same week, when Pyongyang launched a rocket more or less in the direction of Vladivostok), the DPRK also launched in this port city and the new ferry.
Despite the ideological concerns of Pyongyang in connection with very limited external trade turnover between the DPRK and Russia there is a surprising amount of economic ties. Between the countries is trade in commodities such as coal and oil, which are of special value to poorer energy resources of North Korea. Despite the lack of coherent statistical data, in Russia, learns a lot of North Korean students, and employs thousands of low-skilled workers — especially in the far East. The volume of economic relations today is limited, although some experts hope that if the sanctions are lifted and Pyongyang decides to open its economy, can be expected to increase trade with the DPRK.
However, the main reason that Russia has adopted a more conciliatory stance towards North Korea, is that the Kremlin interpreterpath North Korea’s behavior very differently than it does Washington and its allies. Russia traditionally has a much more “relaxed”, the optimistic perspective of the ruling elites in the DPRK, Kim dynasty than the US, despite the fact that it has a small common border with this country. In the early years of the cold war, Pyongyang and Moscow shared a belief in communism, but the times of ideological solidarity between them are long gone.
In the Kremlin consider that the Kim dynasty is undoubtedly strange and incomprehensible, but it is rational. Indeed, Kim Jong-UN has nuclear weapons. But, according to Russian analysts, Kim Jong-UN knows that any use of such weapons for offensive purposes would lead to a nuclear counterstrike by the US, with the result that he will be killed and his country destroyed. From the Russian point of view, the logic of mutually assured destruction that deterred the use of nuclear weapons during the cold war, are no less effective in preventing attacks from Pyongyang. Thus, many Russian analysts argue that North Korea’s nuclear program helps to stabilize the situation, giving Pyongyang additional confidence in their security and deterring the U.S. from a military strike.
The Russian authorities have other reasons to stick with the North Korean question in a position different from the position of Washington. Like Beijing, Moscow is not interested in, to replace the government of North Korea came the new government of a United Korea allied with the United States. The Kremlin, along with China openly criticized the deployment of us missile defense in South Korea. And while Washington is focused on East Asia, he has less attention to resolve the conflicts in the former Soviet Union, which remains the highest priority of Moscow. In addition, Moscow is easy to take on the North Korean issue a position opposite to the US position, because the brunt of the impact in connection with the displeasure of Washington by the intransigence of Kim Jong-UN will go to China.
In fact, according to Russia, the United States deserve, at least, the same condemnation of the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and Pyongyang. From this point of view, a program of the Kim dynasty’s nuclear weapons are primarily about self-defense. “Pyongyang, as a rule, is not taking pre-emptive and retaliatory steps — written by a leading Russian foreign-policy analyst Fyodor Lukyanov. — Knowing what happened to Saddam Hussein (Saddam Hussein) and Muammar Gaddafi (Muammar Gaddafi), whose fates are proof that bluffing is not a reasonable policy, North Korea has created a nuclear and missile program… because Of the presence of the potential foreign interference becomes unacceptably high”. As stated by many Russian analysts, if only Washington did not threaten to change the regime, North Korea did not find it necessary to develop nuclear weapons.
Thanks to nuclear weapons Pyongyang (not to mention the many conventional weapons that are already in range of Seoul) Russia believes that trump’s threats of a military strike the US on North Korea is as dangerous as anything that comes from North Korea. Even the sanctions, according to Russia, is unlikely to change the logic underlying the desire of Pyongyang to develop nuclear weapons. Although they may play a role in freezing tests or develop these weapons. The DPRK has already proved that is able to withstand famine and economic devastation. Then why, one wonders, Russian analysts, Americans believe that tougher economic sanctions will convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program — the only indisputable way to protect themselves against US attack?
This places the burden of responsibility for action on Washington. As noted by the Russian, the United States has still not signed a peace Treaty ending the Korean war and continue to threaten Pyongyang with military force. After the DPRK tested this week the missile, Putin has refrained from criticizing Pyongyang and supported the call for China to address Pyongyang and Washington, under which they must change course.
Washington, unhappy with the unwillingness and inability of China to put pressure on Pyongyang to change course, looking for other solutions to the problem. The option to allow North Korea to continue development and testing of missiles that could strike the United States, is unattractive — especially after trump promised that the North Korean nuclear weapons capable of reaching America, “not happening!”. If to take military action to destroy the nuclear forces of North Korea, it is fraught with the beginning of large-scale war with South Korea and Japan.
If Washington has tempered its plans on the Korean Peninsula, adopting the nuclear program of Pyongyang and offering North Korea security guarantees, Moscow could connect and also to exert pressure on the DPRK with the requirement to stop testing nuclear weapons and developing missiles. But while Washington will push for the agenda providing for a military solution or regime change, the Kremlin will continue to strive to lay the blame not only on Kim Jong-UN, but Donald trump.