Mere weeks after Kim Jung Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met in Hanoi, the North Korean leader is now making a play to gain Russian support and influence, no doubt to ease the effects of economic sanctions felt by his [Kim Jung Un’s] country, while also maintaining its nuclear program. Analysts speculate this is a strategic move in order to establish himself as a global force with friends other than just China. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim Jung Un are set to meet this Thursday in the Russian port city of Vladivostok. Un’s objective is self evident: keep his nuclear program intact while at the same time lifting sanctions that are crippling his economy.
The U.S. State Department will keep a watchful eye on this meeting, as many officials believe this is largely a ploy to bring the U.S. back to the table for discussions. For this reason, diplomats are already in Russia in an effort to gauge the temperature of the Putin administration and its willingness to work with North Korea.
“The United States is committed to working with interested parties, including Russia, on the robust and sustained implementation of U.N. sanctions in order to move forward with denuclearization,” U.S. State Department
Many believe the outcome of this meeting is far too predictable. Much like a child wanting something he or she knows won’t happen, they’ll go to one parent first and ask for permission. When the answer isn’t what they want, move on to the next parent, and so on until they finally find an ally who will permit their request or just don’t care. While U.S.-Russia relations aren’t the greatest at the moment, a nuclear-armed North Korea isn’t in anyone’s best interest, regionally or globally.
Critics of the United States argue that N. Korea is arming itself only because the regional U.S. presence is a constant threat and Kim Jung Un’s posture is that of self-defense only. Some European leaders are of the opinion that Un is looking for allies to pit against the U.S., including Russia. But the sudden acceleration of North Korea’s desire to move up the meeting signals a bit of desperation. Perhaps the Kim Jung Un leadership feels the pressure of the economic sanctions on a new level? This may be a clear indication that the U.S. policy and international sanctions are in fact working.