Russian leader Vladimir Putin has a reputation for being blunt, but also for being crafty and cunning. As a former KGB operative, Putin’s moves are always calculated so everyone should be skeptical of his claims.
In a meeting with Russian journalists this week, Putin to take sides between North Korea and South Korea. In a discussion about the latest round of tensions between the two countries, Putin said that North Korea “has certainly won this round.”
The Tense Dance on the Korean Peninsula
With the 2018 Winter Olympics set to begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea in only a few weeks, North Korea has been in talks with its neighbor about sending a delegation of athletes. These discussions were tense since South Korea is perhaps the most vocal nation aside from the United States about North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week that the talks — at least on the subject of the Olympics — were successful, and the country would be sending athletes to the Olympic Games.
On New Year’s Day, Kim also made a speech in which he claimed that North Korea has achieved nuclear weapons.
Putin told reporters that the West should engage in dialogue with North Korea and that Kim wanted to de-escalate the situation.
The Russian leader called Kim a “shrewd and mature politician,” saying that he had “obviously won” the political standoff:
He has completed his strategic task: he has a nuclear weapon, he has missiles of global reach, up to 13,000 km, which can reach almost any point of the globe.
Russia Hasn’t Supported NK Nukes
As a member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia has voted to put international sanctions in place against North Korea because of its ongoing nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Russia has also called for the U.S. to engage in talks over the situation.
In Putin’s recent televised talks with Russian reporters, he restated that position and said that he thinks the West should not exacerbate the issue, but that Kim wants to come back to the table and the West should do the same.
While the U.S. and South Korea have steadfastly refused to endorse North Korea’s continued nuclear development, the Asian country claims that the program is merely a defensive tactic to guard against what it sees as U.S. aggression against it.
Putin may be right — behind the bluster, Kim has made some shrewd moves. But if he wanted to be constructive, he would forgo the gloating and try to bring China, the real force behind North Korea, to the table.