Moscow-Pyongyang Bi-Lateral Relations to Improve after Summit in Russia
Last updated on April 27th, 2019
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Russia for his first Summit with President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok. This summit can be seen as Pyongyang strengthening its relations with its former ally amidst nuclear deadlock with Washington.
Kim arrived on Wednesday in Khasan, a Russian border town, in his private armored train. He was welcomed in a traditional method, with bread and salt.
The meeting is said to take place at a university campus in Vladivostok, and it will be Kim’s first summit with an international leader, following the failure of Hanoi summit with the US President Donald Trump.
Kim’s staff included foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, who reportedly told the reporters that North Korea would “never change” its stance after the summit in Vietnam.
Kim has gone to Russia after the repeated invitations from Putin since last year, when Kim started his diplomatic approach. Since March 2018, the North Korean leader has had several summits, including one with Chinese President Xi Jinping, three with South’s Moon Jae-in, two with Trump, and one with Vietnam’s President.
The main reason for the failure of the Hanoi summit was that both the sides could not find a common ground to resolve the denuclearization issue and the sanctions that came along.
Upon reaching Russia, Kim said, “I came to Russia with the warm feeling of our people. I hope that this visit will be successful and useful, and that during the negotiations with esteemed President Putin, I will be able to specifically discuss issues of resolving the situation on the Korean Peninsula and developing our bilateral relations.”
When Russia asked the US to reduce the sanctions imposed on Pyongyang, the US accused Moscow of attempting to help the country avoid some of the sanctions imposed. However, Russia has denied such accusations.
Yuri Ushakov, Russian foreign policy aide, during a press conference said, “In the last few months the situation around the peninsula has stabilized somewhat, thanks in large part to North Korea’s initiatives of stopping rocket testing and closing its nuclear test site. Russia intends to help in any way possible to cement that positive trend.”
Analysts claim that the objective of Pyongyang is to gain support from countries for his nuclear standoff with the US. Similarly, since the role of Moscow all over the world is now reduced to a shadow of what it once was, therefore the Russian external policy is motivated by its “search for relevance”.
Jeong Young-tae, an analyst at the Institute of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said “It’s part of the North’s Juche — self-reliance — ideology not to rely on a single ally. Pyongyang has a group of experts on diplomacy who have been in their post for decades. They’ll know how to play the game if it ever becomes necessary for Pyongyang to play off its allies against each other.”
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