Kim and Putin: Challenging the US role in denuclearisation | Russia News

The Kremlin tried hard to present Kim Jong Un‘s first ever visit to Russia as an historic event aimed at proving how important Moscow is in the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula – especially after the failure of US-North Korean talks in Hanoi two months ago.

Kremlin-controlled media described in great detail how Kim’s armoured train arrived in the Pacific port of Vladivostok on Wednesday, how Russian officials welcomed him with traditional round bread and salt, what theatres, museums and landmarks the moonfaced autocrat will visit during his three-day visit.

“We are very much willing to take the Korean-Russian ties to a new, higher level,” Kim said during a reception after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that lasted for more than three hours on Thursday.

“Everyone is happy with the outcome of the talks,” Putin added – and toasted to “strengthening the friendship and cooperation” between Moscow and Pyongyang.

‘Mutual interests’

Kim highlighted the importance of the relationship and said ties have strengthened, while both nations had overcome “every hardship thrown to them by history”.

“The people of the two countries … understand [that the] North Korea-Russia tie not only serves our mutual interests but is also indispensable for securing the region’s peace and stability,” Kim said. 

But the summit’s presumed importance seemed to fizzle out as it did not produce a deal of any significance for the Korean settlement, and no accords were signed after the talks.

Experts say, however, that the true purpose of Kim’s visit to Russia was a chance to leave himself some wiggle room when talks with the US resume – and to use Russia as the bogeyman if US President Donald Trump goes too far with his threats.

“This is the breakthrough the [North] Korean side needed to tell the US: ‘Look, we have normal ties with Moscow, if something happens, we will run to them for protection, stop waving your fists,'” Dmitry Zhuravlev, director general of the Institute of Regional Issues, a Moscow think-tank, told Al Jazeera.

China is North Korea’s main international backer, but Russia has plenty of leverage and interest in propping up Kim’s dynasty. If it weren’t for the Soviet Union, North Korea would not exist – Communist Moscow supplied its tiny vassal with foodstuffs, fuel and diplomatic protection for decades.

Moscow still has veto power in the United Nations Security Council, and it wants to play a role in anything related to North Korea. The nations share a border, and Russia serves as a workplace for at least 10,000 North Korean labour migrants, an important source of hard currency for Pyongyang.

Russia does not want a nuclear disaster next door, but its interest in the disarmament of North Korea is limited; the fall of the Kim dynasty would likely mean that a unified Korea becomes a US ally, and American military bases could appear next to Russia’s Pacific provinces.

As a result of Thursday’s summit, Putin and Kim “reached an agreement that Russia will definitely be one of the international guarantors of any accord between North Korea and the United States,” Andrey Fyodorov, Russia’s former deputy foreign minister and an expert on North Korea, told Al Jazeera.

Russia will also help shape a list of conditions for North Korea’s disarmament.

US demands don’t ‘suit Kim’ 

In February, Kim’s talks with US President Donald Trump collapsed because they could not reach an agreement on White House’s demands for Pyongyang to denuclearize and for Washington to drop sanctions.

US demands “don’t suit Kim fully, they are too broad, they involve all walks of life, such as a ban on space research, chemical research and what not,” Fyodorov said.

“That is why the main task of Russia, the US and China is to come up with a real formulation of denuclearisation.”

Putin said he would discuss a possible disarmament deal in China, where he is flying later on Thursday.

“I will, of course, talk tomorrow in Beijing with the leaders of China, but we will openly and frankly discuss today’s meeting with the US leaders,” Putin told journalists after the summit.

Moscow’s role in talks over North Korea’s nuclear programme is one of the few remaining points of contact with Washington as Russia’s ties with the West plunged to Cold War-era lows because of the annexation of Crimea and support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Without us, without Russia, one can’t untie the Gordian knot of the Korean problems,” Zhuravlev said.

Kim said that he may board his custom-made train to traverse Siberia for talks later this year the way his father, Kim Jong Il, who was born in a Russian village not far from the Chinese border in 1941, visited Russia several times.

“The people of North Korea have always had affectionate and brotherly emotions about the people of Russia and feel pride that a great country like Russia is a close neighbour,” Kim said after the talks.

Source

more recommended stories

  • Malaysia parliament to debate move to lower voting age to 18 | News

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Malaysia’s parliament.

  • El Salvador rape victim jailed for stillbirth goes on trial again | El Salvador News

    San Salvador, El Salvador – Evelyn.

  • Powerful earthquake rocks parts of eastern Indonesia | News

    A strong, shallow earthquake has struck.

  • Cricket: England beat New Zealand to win World Cup | News

    World Cup winners 1975 – West.

  • Barry weakens but Louisiana authorities warn threat remains | News

    Slow-moving tropical storm Barry has weakened.

  • Why is Turkey’s purchase of Russian weapons controversial? | USA

    A battle appears to be looming.

  • UK police warning to media over leaked memos stirs anger | News

    Senior British politicians, including both contenders.

  • The informal networks resisting Honduras’s abortion ban | Honduras

    Tegucigalpa, Honduras – At 22 years.

  • Suicide attack at Somalia hotel followed by gunfire | Somalia News

    A car bomb went off in.

  • Sudan’s ruling military council says coup attempt foiled | News

    Sudan‘s ruling military council (TMC) says.

  • Ghana’s president wants Africa-Europe relationship to change | Colonialism News

    Africa must change its relationship with.

  • Ex-UN chief joins chorus of concern over floods at Rohingya camps | News

    Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has.

  • US wants Senate-approved deal with Iran: US envoy Brian Hook | News

    The Trump administration wants a Senate-approved agreement.

  • After ISIL, children try to catch up with school in Mosul | ISIS/ISIL News

    Mosul, Iraq – It was the.

  • US wants military coalition to safeguard waters off Iran, Yemen | Iran News

    The United States says it is.

  • Israel’s separation wall endures, 15 years after ICJ ruling | News

    In the occupied West Bank, the.

  • Turkey seeks to arrest hundreds over alleged Gulen links | News

    Turkish prosecutors have ordered the arrest.

  • Iran: World powers won’t get a better nuclear deal | USA News

    Iran warned world powers they will.

  • Iran passes new nuclear deal limit as China blames US for crisis | News

    Iran has passed the uranium enrichment cap.

  • Trump hits back at UK envoy who called White House ‘inept’ | Trump News

    US President Donald Trump has hit back.

  • Indonesia: Tsunami warning issued after strong earthquake | News

    Indonesian authorities have issued a tsunami.

  • Anti-racists outnumber far-right Proud Boys at DC rally | USA News

    Washington, DC – Counterprotesters outnumbered members.

  • How can modern slavery be stopped? | UK

    They were told they’d get jobs.

  • Media haven or hell? The paradox of journalism in Turkey | Turkey

    In this special edition of the.

  • Rival rallies held on Venezuela’s independence day | Juan Guaido News

    Venezuela‘s bitterly divided political factions have.

  • Can a Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance save Brexit Britain from itself? | UK

    At the start of June, when.

  • ‘State-in-waiting’: Papua’s rebels unite against Indonesia rule | News

    Jakarta, Indonesia – The three main.

  • Meet Pakistan’s blind cricketers | Pakistan News

    On a standard cricket field with.

  • Algeria’s interim president proposes talks without ‘state’ role | Algeria News

    Algeria’s interim President Abdelkader Bensalah pledged.

  • The new rulers of Europe | News

    London, UK – After a series.

  • Rahul Gandhi resigns as leader of India’s opposition Congress | News

    Rahul Gandhi has stepped down as.

  • Deadly attack hits Tripoli migrant detention centre: Official | Libya News

    An air attack late on Tuesday.