Tag Archive | "russia"

Understanding Intentions: A Response to James Brown

By Olga Krasnyak

I’d like to respond to Dr. James Brown’s recently published paper entitled ‘Putting a spoke in the wheel: Russian efforts to weaken U.S.-led alliance structures in Northeast Asia’ that he presented at KEI on 18 June 2020. Brown’s main argument is that Russia intends ‘to undermine the unity of Western alliances’ but more specifically – ‘to weaken the South Korean and Japanese alliances with the United States.’ While using the Russian-language sources to support his argument, Brown brings a number of examples illustrating Russia’s assertive behavior in Northeast Asia.

To be sure, there is no way to deny Russia’ belligerent behavior in the region as shown by the author. Yet, what is more important is to look at the situation from Russia’s perspective. In this case, understanding Russia’s intentions that are based on historical and geographical peculiarities of the country, its relations with neighbors and with major powers is key.

As represented in the paper, Brown’s arguments rather leaves an impression of the old-fashioned Russo-phobic rhetoric inherited from the Cold War period. Such rhetoric surely doesn’t weigh the main argument. However, to some extent, the Cold War narrative still navigates world politics and inter-state relations, and it’s here to stay for some time.

Assessing the article, my simple counter-argument is that Russia, as any other regional or global power, pursues its national interests and does not necessarily intend to deliberately harm the existing alliance structure in Northeast Asia. Moreover, if the U.S.-South Korea and U.S.-Japan alliances remain strong, there is nothing to fear to undermine them. If the U.S.-led alliance system in the region is showing elements of corrosion, pointing fingers and blaming Russia is a rather weak position considering domestic challenges within the alliance and the global shift towards multipolarity.

Diplomacy and derzhavnost’

As Brown rightly noted, diplomacy is a tool to implement a nation-state’s foreign policy objectives. Therefore, understanding Russia’s foreign policy is important to assess diplomatic means and ends. Historically, Russia’s foreign policy has been the pursuit of influence over Eurasia, including the Far East, reflected in the national idea derzhavnost’. Seva Gunitsky and Andrei Tsygankov, Russian-born political scientists based in Canada and U.S. respectively defined the term as ‘the state of possessing – and being recognized by others to possess – clear status as a great power.’ In other words, putting the national idea of derzhavnost’ at the core of Russian foreign policy explains that the country sees itself a great power and it seems there’s no option for Russia to reconsider this view any time soon.

As for South Korea and Japan – despite their economic and technological capabilities – Russia more than likely does not consider them geopolitical competitors. Instead, pure pragmatism and rationality to maintain friendly and beneficial relations with both neighboring countries remains Russia’s foreign policy objective through diplomacy.

Air incursions and military exercises

Air incursions and joint military exercises are another key point to which Brown refers in  characterizing Russia’s ill intentions. However, intrusions into the airspace of other countries or military exercises performed close to foreign territory is not something that Russia does exclusively. Such intrusions and exercises are the legacy of the Cold War and is the reflection of the security dilemma. In this case, the intrusions and exercises serve defensive purposes although they have a psychological effect – to animate danger, threat, and fear.

An American political scientist Ben Buchanan, in his book The Cybersecurity Dilemma (2017), describes how during the Cold War the U.S. practiced intrusions into the Soviet air space as what it thought was a benign defensive activity. The Soviets, however, perceived American intrusions as aggressive and viewed them as a serious threat. Buchanan cited one American pilot who recalled that “sometimes we would fly missions over the Black Sea … To tickle the Soviets a little and create more activity we would do a straight approach towards Sevastopol, turn and run out. Then we would listen to the racket” (p. 26).

Such intrusions led to tragedy in the different parts of the world. In 1983 the U.S. Navy conducted a massive military exercise in the North Pacific Ocean near the Kuril Islands, which was also often surveyed by American jets. It was an attempt to provoke a Soviet reaction with flights on or over the border, so that naval intelligence could study the response. Six American planes directly flew over Soviet military installations outraging the Soviets and prompting an angry Soviet diplomatic response. The incident built up Soviet anxiety that eventually led to tragedy when Korean Air Lines Flight 007 from New York to Seoul inadvertently entered Soviet airspace and was shot down destroying the airliner and killing all of the 269 passengers and crew aboard (p. 27).

In no way should one bring excuses or undermine the repercussions of such actions, but realistically the situation when a country uses air incursions or conducts military exercises along the borders of a country with adversarial intentions (i.e. U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises) to minimize the security dilemma, is a long-term practice continuously replicated by different countries at different times. Accusing only Russia of doing so, as Brown argues, sounds rather one-sided.

Plus, other recent events, such as the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Open Sky Treaty as well as from arms control arrangements negotiated with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, maximize the security dilemma and put countries to the rise of another arms race.

Information and public diplomacy

Brown pays special attention to Russia’s public diplomacy and information campaign. Once again, public diplomacy is not a new tool to promote a nation-state narrative among foreign audiences. Practices of public diplomacy are also rooted in the Cold War Era. In 1953, the U.S. created the United States Information Agency (USIA) to ‘tell America’s story to the world’ (for the detailed view and deeper analysis, see Nicholas J. Cull’s book on the USIA). In Korea, earlier in 1950, when communist North Korea invaded non-communist South Korea, the U.S. prepared not only a military response, but also launched battlefield propaganda and an explanatory information campaign around the world. As for Japan, during the decades of the Cold War, the USIA put a lot of effort into producing a massive amount of publications as well as commissioning films, music and other cultural media aiming to promote American culture.

To be sure, America’s public diplomacy slogan to influence hearts and minds of foreign publics – which may be outdated in its intended context – could relatively easily be adopted by any other power that has regional or global ambitions to promote its interests internationally. In this regard, Russia’s information campaign in Japan – to which Brown references – should not look unique, exclusive or threatening. Quite the opposite – those are well-developed practices as set by the USIA.

To sum up, Brown’s article makes an argument to prove that Russia has had bad intentions towards the United States and its allies in Northeast Asia. However, the evidence the author brings appears one-sided, with the facts taken out of their current and historical context. Nonetheless, the merit of the article is starting a discussion even though the conclusion of the article doesn’t suggest any solutions to minimize the negative outcome that Russia’s actions might cause as they are viewed by the author. As a suggestion, perhaps adding a diplomatic perspective if not to solve then to manage the ongoing problem by minimizing the security dilemma while trying to understand the other side’s intentions would have been more beneficial for the discourse.

Olga Krasnyak  is an Assistant Professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.  The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from United Nations Photo’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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The Objectives of Collaboration by Russia and North Korea’s News Agencies

By Olga Krasnyak

On 8 October 2019 a delegation of top Russian media representatives visited Pyongyang where TASS, the largest Russian news agency, and KCNA, the Korean Central News Agency, signed a new cooperation agreement. As reported, TASS is the only foreign news agency that operates in Pyongyang on a regular basis.

Considering the fact that foreign correspondents from Western news agencies have difficulties gaining access to North Korea, and when they eventually do are normally supervised by intelligence agents, they do not enjoy freedom of the press in North Korea. An example of such constraints are the foreign reporters who were given access to cover the propaganda-like dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. The charade of that dismantling was obvious to the international expert community, while the role of foreign reporters was undermined in their failure to understand that it had not been irreversibly dismantled.

Of course, Russian reporters would not be given absolute freedom in an authoritarian country, yet their permanent presence and access to North Korea will enable Russian journalists to watch the country closer.

The objectives of the collaboration between news agencies can be assessed as follows.

First, news exchanges. This objective looks obvious and might not require extra explanation: what would be easier than to exchange the news in the digital era? Moreover, the circulation of all kinds of news could not be solely dependent on the willingness or otherwise acceptance of political authorities to share the news. One way or another, the news will come out. What is important to note is that when accessing the agreement of news exchanges between Russia and North Korea, it becomes visible that the agreement critically eases North Korea-Russia journalistic exchanges and the exchange of experiences on a regular basis. People-to-people exchanges that aim to build interpersonal trust and grow understanding help to deepen bilateral relations.

Second, deepening bilateral relations. On a more broad scale, collaboration between news agencies helps both countries to maintain inter-state relations. For example, TASS has never missed the opportunity to mention that it is the only foreign agency that interviewed Kim Jong-il (the father of Kim Jong-un) twice, in 2001 and 2011 (in Russian). This fact might indicate close ties and a certain level of trust between the two countries. Alternatively, this fact might also point out the direction that other countries — who are interested in reaching North Korea — might be willing to take in order to approach North Korea. In any case, pragmatism and calculation explain the intentions to maintain friendship and solidarity between two peoples. If this objective sounds too ambitions and unrealistic, bearing in mind that North Korea is not the main priority of Russia’s foreign policy but Russia is interested in securing its Far East from any potential threat posed by North Korea, then there is no harm in declaring a peoples’ friendship and solidarity.

Third, strategizing and formulating the state narrative. This objective might be the most important to take into consideration. The reputation of KCNA and its tone for news interpretation to voice North Korea’s foreign policy is peculiar and mostly propagandistic. In contrast (even some propaganda experts might argue), Russia’s TASS new agency is more reputable. The Soviet times propaganda unveiled that people have little trust in the state narrative that had been voiced by a state news agency. TASS, however, has acknowledged the Soviet experience and reframed its news coverage in a more balanced and transparent way.

Imagine that KCNA cares about its international reputation and might tend to reframe its image as more reliable at the same time continuing to be the mouthpiece of North Korea’s leadership. If this is the case, then cooperating with TASS might be taken as a small step to learn from Russia’s experience to create a more positive image of a news agency.

One might argue that Russia cannot teach the freedom of the press to anyone, yet inviting Western liberal mainstream media representatives to North Korea for close cooperation is unthinkable and unimaginable at the moment. Gradual changes might be the only harmless option for North Korea.

Going deeper, Russia’s contemporary stance and self-positioning on the international stage includes promoting the idea of national sovereignty. For example, Russia insists that regardless of political regime, any currently existing statehood must not be destroyed but only changed through reforms. Moscow is certain that through gradual evolutionary change and state reform, it would be possible to create new models of progressive development and competitiveness intrinsic to the modern world (i.e. human rights and the freedom of the press). This scheme is well applied to North Korea.

When talking about national sovereignty — that by default must be preserved — North Korea’s sovereignty cannot be removed from the international discourse. The notion of national sovereignty that cannot be compromised, is the cornerstone in inter-state relations and peaceful coexistence. Thinking logically, North Korea might adapt the principle of promoting a certain state narrative and news interpretation close to Russia’s concept of national sovereignty.

In sum, through the collaboration of news agencies, North Korea and Russia are more likely pursue their pragmatic goals. When promoting its foreign policy objectives and deepening bilateral relations with North Korea, Russia makes a contribution to preserving the peace on the Korean peninsula and securing its Far East. North Korea’s pragmatic goal is to enlist the support of its closest neighbor from the North and, perhaps, stabilizing ideological battles with the implicit support of Russia. The long term outcome of the collaboration is yet to be fully evaluated, but a positive dynamic in bilateral relations should not be overlooked by whether Western or Asian powers who have stepped in the Northeast Asian region.

Dr. Olga Krasnyak is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Theory and History of International Relations at RUDN University in Moscow. Her research interests lie within diplomatic studies with a focus on science diplomacy and its implementation into a state’s foreign policy agenda. Dr. Krasnyak is the author of National Styles in Science, Diplomacy, and Science Diplomacy (Leiden, Boston: Brill 2018). She often provides media commentary on diplomacy, foreign policy, and international relations. She tweets @OlgaKrasnyak 

Photo from Uri Tour’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin Discuss North Korean Workers in Russia

By Robert R. King

On April 25, for the first time in the nine years that he has been Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un met face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian Far Eastern city of Vladivostok.  The principal focus of the meeting was the failed Hanoi summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.  Both Russian and North Korean media provided extensive coverage of the meeting, and in a press event after the meeting, Putin gave his own readout of the just-concluded meeting with Kim Jong-un.

That Putin media event did not have the rugby-scrum atmosphere of a Trump “press availability” as the American President walks from the White House to Marine One, with helicopter blades noisily whirring in the background and journalists shouting questions above the din.  The Russian President responded to formal polite questions from respectful journalists with carefully weighed answers.  The focus of the questions to Putin involved North Korean-United States issues as well as North Korea-Russian security issues.

One of the more interesting questions was from a Russian journalist who raised with Putin the issue of North Korean laborers in Russia.  In his response,the Russian President acknowledged that it was one of the topics he discussed with Kim Jong-un.  This is the text of the exchange with Putin.

Question: “Has the topic of North Koreans who work in Russia been raised during the talks? They are supposed to leave our country, but they do not want to. Thank you.”

Putin responded:  “Yes, we talked about this. There are several different options here. There are humanitarian issues, and there are issues related to the exercising of these people’s rights. There are smooth, non-confrontational solutions. I must say that the Koreans work well for us, never giving the local authorities any trouble. They are very hardworking people, law-abiding and disciplined. We discussed it.”

North Korean Workers and UN Sanctions

North Korean laborers in Russia (also in China and elsewhere) are a serious issue related to the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions on North Korea because of its nuclear and missile programs.  The United States government said North Korea was earning more than $500 million annually from an estimated 100,000 North Koreans working abroad in a number of countries, and that 50,000 North Koreans were working in China and 30,000 in Russia.  The UN Security Council sanctions (UNSC Resolution 2397, Paragraph 8) include a ban on all North Korean labor exports with deadlines for eliminating all North Korean foreign labor by the end of 2019.

In March 2019, the government of Russia informed the UN Security Council that it had sent back nearly two-thirds of the North Korean workers in Russia.  North Koreans with valid Russian work permits dropped from 30,023 to 11,490 according to Russian officials.  At the same time, China informed the Council that more than half of the North Korean workers in China had returned, though it did not give a number of total workers or the number who returned to the North.  (There have been some press reports, however, that new groups ofNorth Korean workers are going to China.)

These Russian and Chinese statements were submitted to the United Nations, but they were not formally made public. However, Reuters and other news media were shown the one-page reports from each country giving this information.The Moscow Times also published a similar report with the Russian figures.Consistent with UN sanctions requirements, a number of other countries who had North Korean workers in the past have ended the practice.  Mongolia, for example, sent the last 1,200 North Korean workers in Mongolia back to North Korea in December 2017.

In July 2018, the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security issued a notice regarding the serious risk for businesses with supply chain links to North Korea and warned against products from countries using North Korean labor.  The industries affected included apparel, construction, footwear, hospitality, IT services, logging, medical, pharmaceuticals, restaurant, seafood processing, textiles, and shipbuilding.  The United States listed 46 countries where North Korean labor was employed, although the notice said that China and Russia had more North Korean workers than all other countries combined.

Benefits for Moscow

For Moscow, there are distinct economic benefits to using North Korean workers.  First, North Korean workers are close to a large, resource rich area of Russia which is sparsely populated.  The Far Eastern Federal District, one of the eight Federal Districts of Russia, comprises 40 percent of the entire territory of country, and its 2.7 million square mile area, which is more than two-thirds the size of the entire United States (including Alaska).  TheFar Eastern Federal District extends from Lake Baikal in the center of Russia to the Pacific Ocean only a few miles from Alaska across the Bearing Strait.

This huge territory, however, has a population of only 8.4 million people.  Tiny North Korea alone has a population of 25 million people living in a territory equal to less than 2% of the land mass of Russia’s Far Eastern Federal District.  Russia needs labor to develop and exploit the extensive timber and other natural resources of this vast area.

Another important benefit to Russia of using North Korean workers is that they are relatively cheap.  The Russian Ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora, told reporters that Chinese laborers would be unwilling to take construction jobs in Russia’s Far East which are filled by North Koreans because the pay is too low to be attractive to the Chinese.  Furthermore, the Russian government would prefer to have non-Chinese workers in its Far East.  In the past, China, with its population of 1.4 billion people, has made claims against sparsely populated Russian controlled territory in East Asia.

Russia and other countries who host North Korean workers, have found these workers to be a disciplined work force, controlled and managed by their minders from home.  One Russian in Vladivostok enthusiastically expressed it this way, “They do nothing but work from morning until late at night.”  Russians are happy to employ North Koreans for household repair and painting or building a sports stadium.  Putin, as noted in his recent press conference said “the Koreans work well for us, never giving the local authorities any trouble.  They are very hardworking people, law-abiding and disciplined.”

Benefits for Pyongyang

There is a financial benefit to North Korea from the employment of its workers abroad.  Koreans working abroad are under strict control with party and government supervisors who monitor them.  The individual workers are not paid directly, but through the North Korean managers.  Under this system, a major portion of the wages goes to Pyongyang and a significant portion is also taken by the North Korean work unit managers and the supervisors in Pyongyang.  Earnings remaining for North Korean workers are reduced for payments to the Workers’ Party, and other donations are made to a loyalty fund.

United States officials have estimated that the North Korean take from all of these foreign workers around the world is as much as $500 million.  While that estimate may be excessive, there is little question that the cash benefit to the government of foreign workers is important—probably increasingly important as North Korean trade has declined and import costs have risen as a result of UN sanctions.

North Korean workers abroad are provided food and lodging as part of the effort to control the workers.  What is left as direct pay to the workers is only a small part of what the host country pays for their services, but workers can take home most of the modest earnings they are paid.  Even with this small take-home pay, most North Koreans who work abroad for the average two-year stint are able to accumulate a significant nest egg by North Korean standards.

Living and working conditions for North Koreans abroad are not good—particularly by international standards.  Working abroad does involve human rights abuse, and accounts of living conditions of North Koreans working abroad indicate conditions are very difficult.  Some attention was given to difficult working conditions for North Koreans in Russia in connection with their work on the Zenit Arena in St. Petersburg, which was used for 2018 World Cup games hosted by Russia.  But for North Korean workers accustomed to draconian working and living conditions at home, working abroad actually is attractive.

When North Koreans work abroad, they are not permitted to bring family members with them.  Wives and children remain in North Korea, held hostage to be certain the workers do not “defect.”  It also makes it easier to control workers abroad by threatening harm to family members.  Life is difficult for workers who go abroad, but also for their family members who remain behind.

Despite the difficult and abusive conditions for North Koreans working in Russia, reports indicate that would-be foreign laborers pay hefty bribes for the privilege of working there.  Andrei Lankov, Russian-born Korea specialist and professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, has discussed this phenomenon of North Koreans eager to work abroad.  Lankov is correct—when the alternative to work abroad is working under draconian conditions inside North Korea for lower wages, workers are eager to go abroad.

Working conditions, long hours, and low pay for North Koreans abroad are difficult, particularly in comparison to conditions and pay for workers of countries where they are sent.  In comparison with labor standards, conditions, and wages elsewhere, North Korean workers suffer rights abuse.  At the same time, compared to what they would earn and the conditions they would face if they remain in North Korea, there are benefits that make working abroad a sought-after alternative for many North Koreans.

Will Russia Observe its Commitment on North Korea Sanctions?

Despite the advantage for Russia of using North Korean labor and the desire of North Korea to continue the practice, the UN Security Council sanctions are quite explicit in requiring an end to use of North Korean foreign labor.  Russia and China—as well as the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and other UN member states—have an obligation to observe UN Security Council sanctions.  Russia and China have publicly stated to the United Nations that they are reducing the numbers of North Korean workers, and they intend to end the practice by December 2019.

Vladimir Putin’s response to the Russian journalist’s query in Vladivostok, however, indicated that North Korean laborers in Russia is an issue that received significant attention in his meeting with Kim Jong-un.  The Russians have been moving to reduce the number of North Korean workers, but Putin’s comments that “there are several options here” and “there are humanitarian issues. . . and these people’s rights,” suggests a possible softening of the Russian position on sanctions against employment of North Korean workers.

The fact that Kim Jong-un raised the foreign worker issue in Vladivostok makes it clear that the UN sanctions involving foreign workers are having an impact in Pyongyang.  The real question is whether Kim Jong-un’s appeal to Putin will lead Russia to backtrack from its United Nations sanctions commitment.

Robert R. King is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Korea Economic Institute of America. He is former U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights.  The views expressed here are his own.  

Photo from the website of the President of the Russian Federation.

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South Korea’s Lonely Task: Jumpstarting Denuclearization Talks, Again

By Yonho Kim

The recent North Korea-Russia summit in Vladivostok drew keen attention from the international society in the sense that it was North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s first summit diplomacy in the two months since his failed Hanoi summit with President Donald Trump. Obviously, Kim had chance to send a strong signal to Washington that he has alternatives to Trump’s ‘big deal or no deal’ formula by meeting with President Vladimir Putin for the first time. To Kim’s favor, Putin supported North Korea’s phased approach to denuclearization based on confidence-building measures. Another gift for Kim was Putin’s emphasis on multilateral security guarantees, which seems unrealistic for now, for Pyongyang in return for its nuclear disarmament. It is true that Putin failed to provide any public commitment to substantial economic aid and sanctions relief. However, Kim’s overture to Putin put South Korea in a very difficult position when Seoul tries to revive inter-Korean ties and jumpstart the stalled denuclearization talks.

First of all, the timing of Kim-Putin summit was discouraging to South Korea. South Korea hosted an event to celebrate the first anniversary of the summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in right after the Kim-Putin summit. To the Moon government’s disappointment, Pyongyang did not respond to Seoul’s invitation. Without North Korea’s participation, the event was held in a modest and quiet tone with Moon joining via video message.

The Kim-Putin summit also reconfirmed that Pyongyang has lost its interest in having Seoul as a mediator for denuclearization negotiations with Washington. Kim basically asked Putin to take over, at least for now, the role of mediator by encouraging him to deliver Pyongyang’s message to Trump. Indeed, in his April 13 speech at the Supreme People’s Assembly, Kim called on South Korea to act as a stakeholder rather than a mediator in the denuclearization talks for the interests of the people of the two Koreas. As long as Seoul is unable to persuade Washington to ease the sanctions blocking inter-Korean economic cooperation, Pyongyang seems unwilling to consider reengaging with its southern neighbor.

Observers in Seoul are paying keen attention to the fact that the issue of security guarantee instead of sanctions relief was publicly raised at the Vladivostok summit. This may indicate that Pyongyang would focus on the most fundamental sticking point, including the presence of U.S. forces in South Korea and U.S. nuclear umbrella, in denuclearization talks instead of demanding sanctions relief which exposed one of their weakest links. If this turns out to be true, the room for the Moon government to play a proactive role will dramatically shrink and the denuclearization negotiations will become a long game.

The Trump administration is persisting with its own version of strategic patience leaving little chance for sanctions relief until North Korea’s denuclearization. Although Trump derided Obama’s strategic patience for allowing the North Korea problem fester, the current stalemate involves no military tension or rhetorical wars. Trump and Kim are even claiming that they are willing to return to diplomacy if the other side would give up and emerge from its own strategic patience. Neither China nor Russia seem to be willing to change the status quo or nuclear stalemate in part because it mitigates their concerns about exclusion from the denuclearization talks. Although Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered to meet Kim without conditions to “break the current mutual distrust,” it is unclear whether his conciliatory gestures will be welcomed by Kim.

Moon successfully brokered the historic 2018 Singapore summit and then helped jumpstart the stalled denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea by announcing the Pyongyang Declaration at his third summit with Kim. However, given the tense tug of war between Trump and Kim and the unbearable risks of failed third Trump-Kim summit, it is less likely to see any time soon past pattern of Moon’s constructive role in facilitating U.S.-North Korea negotiations than before. The Moon government has been promoting a comprehensive nuclear deal with a roadmap to an end state involving phased implementations. However, North Korea has yet to respond to Moon’s call for fourth summit with Kim. Indeed, liberals in Seoul reluctantly agree that it might take a considerable amount of time and efforts before starting to see a closing of gap between Washington and Pyongyang. They hope that even while playing the long game, the two sides will stop bickering outside the negotiations and start talks at the working level.

North Korea’s launch of short-range projectiles last week was a slap in the face to a South Korea that has been trying to reduce military tensions and prevent accidental military clashes with the North. The Blue House immediately condemned Pyongyang, arguing that its launch was contrary to the purpose of inter-Korean military accords agreed in the Pyongyang Declaration last year. The launch was also a clear signal that Kim is willing to maximize pressure on Trump to undermine his strategic patience toward North Korea. Kim might be calculating that with the 2020 elections in the U.S. approaching, the last thing Trump wants to see on cable news is derisive news reports on the end of Trump-Kim bromance. It remains to see whether the new developments over the last weekend will provide Seoul with any opening to a renewed role of jumpstarting the denuclearization talks.

Yonho Kim is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from the Republic of Korea’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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Understanding Putin-Kim Summit from Russia’s Perspective

By Olga Krasnyak

In the wake of Putin-Kim summit, which was held in Vladivostok on April 25, in order to understand the meaning of the summit and its possible further implications for Northeast Asia, I suggest a Russian perspective.

Given the historical circumstances and pre-conditions in which Russia and North Korea operate, by no means should the Putin-Kim summit be considered groundbreaking or the tables turning. The summit was a meeting between the two state leaders of the two neighboring countries that share common objectives in preserving peace and stability in the region and are interested in maintaining economic relations. Russia-North Korea inter-state relations first were established in 1948 and have been  continuously maintained since then. Of course, the caliber of both countries and their geopolitical postures are contrasting, yet bilateral relations can be characterized as amicable.

In the beginning of the summit, in his welcoming remarks, Kim thanked Putin for traveling thousands of kilometers from Moscow (in Russian and Korean) to meet with him. Kim would be very flattered if that would be the case. However, Vladivostok and the summit with Kim weren’t Putin’s main destination: the summit took place between Putin’s inspection of Russia’s Chita city (about 1700 kilometers from Vladivostok) where he monitored the situation with forest fires in Siberia, and Beijing where he attended the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on the next day.

Even the invitation to visit Russia was given to Kim a year ago and then was extended, according to Russian sources, actual diplomatic preparations for the summit started in November 2018. At a working level, mutual diplomatic and political exchanges and consultations were regular and naturally ended up in the summit. In the contrast of the crisis summit diplomacy—the diplomacy of interaction between states under a heightened threat of systemic change or conflict as with South Korea’s Moon, for instance,—the summit between Putin and Kim has been well prepared to exclude any risk of unpredictable or undesirable outcomes.

Thus, an assumption that Kim agreed to meet with Putin after a ‘no-deal’ summit in Hanoi in order to extend his political leverage is merely a speculation. The outcome of Hanoi summit could only encourage Kim to meet with Putin at their earliest convenience. The summit was literally squeezed into Putin’s schedule. Even though, and perhaps for the security reasons, the exact place and time wasn’t announced long in advance, local Vladivostok-based observers reported that actual preparations at the venue—Far Eastern Federal University—proceeded beforehand and not in secrecy. Interestingly, despite the summit, lectures weren’t cancelled and all classes were taking place at a regular basis.

Another moment should be noticed—the simultaneously 8th annual Moscow Conference on International Security, organized by the Ministry of Defense (23-25 April 2019). This conference traditionally attracts high ranking military personnel at a level of ministers or deputies from the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and might be considered as alternative to Singapore-based IISS Shangri-La Dialogue. What’s important to note regarding Putin-Kim Summit is that at the Moscow conference North Korea wasn’t even mentioned once in the key-speeches delivered by Russia’s top officials: the director of FSB, the Defense Minister and the Foreign Minister. The absence of North Korea in the security agenda means that the whole Korean Peninsula has never been a priority for Russia’s foreign policy. But the post-Soviet space; the Middle East; partly South Asia, Africa, and Latin America are a source for geopolitical interest.

Russia’s foreign policy priorities indicate that the country wouldn’t push too much whether to ensure North Korea’s security guarantees or to severely clash with the position of the United States. Moreover, Russia agrees with the U.S. on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but suggests a more realistic scenario of a gradual, step-by-step denuclearization in the exchange for easing economic sanctions.

On the other hand, the complete denuclearization might pose another problem for North Korea and Northeast Asia and this problem is well acknowledged by Moscow: If North Korea would eventually be cleaned up from nukes and missiles, who would provide the country with security guarantees? Russia or China? Obviously, the U.S. and its ally South Korea would not be welcomed to the North for such purposes. This question should not be neglected and remains open for further consideration by state leaders, policy-makers, strategists, analysts, and scholars of great and regional powers.

Final remark here: during a brief 19-minute press-conference (in Russian) given by Putin, alongside the questions on Kim and North Korea that consumed around 10 minutes, the other 9 minutes were entirely devoted to an internal issue—Putin’s initiative to simplify the scheme in providing people in the East Ukraine (currently controlled by separatist forces) with Russian citizenship. All that showcases once again that Kim and North Korea are not the first priority for Russian foreign policy. Russia is pragmatically interested in sustaining good bilateral relations with its neighbor and to potentially deepen economic ties (including keeping North Korean workers who are presumed ideal in a proportion of price-quality-safety&security) but wouldn’t be proactive in backing North Korea.

Olga Krasnyak is a Lecturer in International Studies at Underwood International College, Yonsei University. The views expressed here are the author’s alone. 

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How Might a Putin-Kim Summit Impact Efforts to Denuclearize North Korea?

By Troy Stangarone

What began as a round of speculation has now been confirmed. Kim Jong-un will hold his first summit meeting with Vladimir Putin on April 25.

The summit will naturally raise questions for the ongoing denuclearization talks with North Korea, as well as North Korea’s evolving role in the region as Pyongyang has sought to increase pressure and regain negotiating leverage vis-à-vis the United States since the no-deal summit in Hanoi.

On a basic level, a Putin-Kim summit would signal to the United States, and to a lesser extent China, that North Korea has other options should talks with the Trump administration not proceed along a path amenable to Pyongyang. This fits in the context of North Korea’s post-Hanoi decisions to rebuild the launch facility at Sohae, test a tactical weapon, and announce that the United States only has until the end of the year to agree to a negotiating strategy Pyongyang would find acceptable. Each action is designed to slowly raise the pressure on Washington and demonstrate that North Korea is not negotiating under pressure, but also not go so far as to permanently sever the talks with the United States. A meeting with Putin would add to this narrative.

A Kim-Putin summit would also suggest that North Korea is growing less isolated. Prior to last year, Kim had not met with any foreign leader since coming to power, but with his turn to diplomacy at the beginning of 2018 he has had more active relations with states in the region. Meeting with Putin would expand that narrative and leave Mongolia and Japan as the only countries he has not engaged.

However, a Putin-Kim summit would also suggest that North Korea’s options are limited if talks with the United States do not go well. While Russian firms have been behind some of the ship-to-ship transfers that have allowed North Korea to gain access to refined fuel, it is unclear how much support the Russian state could or would provide North Korea if talks with the United States fail.

While Kim has now held multiple summits with Xi Jinping and Moon Jae-in, it is unclear if the summits with Xi provided more than political support at a time North Korea was increasingly looking for sanctions relief to boost its economy. The meetings with Moon laid out a series of tangible economic benefits for Kim, but he has not been able to realize any of those gains in the absence of a deal with the United States to provide sanctions relief.

The early summits with Xi and Moon aided Kim by relieving the pressure that had been building diplomatically and militarily, but seem to have had less of an impact on the economic pressure on the regime. As long as South Korea and China generally enforce the existing UN sanctions, North Korea faces limited options in regard to relieving economic pressure. It seems unlikely that Russia could be the solution to its economic problems in the absence of a broader deal on its weapons programs.

While the Soviet Union was an important trading partner for North Korea during the Cold War, trade between the Russian Federation and North Korea has been relatively small in recent years. In 2016, the most recent year for which goods and services trade data are available, total goods trade between Russia and North Korea was only $77 million and services trade another $73 million. Put into perspective, North Korea was earning over $100 million a year in hard currency from the Kaesong Industrial Complex before it was closed. In addition, Russia has reportedly sent back two-thirds of the overseas laborers that North Korea has sent to Russia.

At the same time, Russia may be constrained by the U.S. sanctions it is under and its efforts to maintain the Assad regime in Syria, the Maduro regime in Venezuela, and the breakaway eastern provinces in the Ukraine. While Russia could help maintain the Kim regime if the situation turned desperate, it is unlikely that Russia could provide the resources needed to allow Kim Jong-un to grow the economy in the absence of UN sanctions being lifted. For Kim to go all in with either Russia or China to get around continuing international sanctions would only reinforce his dependence on either or both states, a situation he would wish to avoid.

For Putin, however, there may be more interesting opportunities from the summit. While the most likely result from the summit is a largely neutral outcome where both sides send mildly positive signals about the prospects for denuclearization if the United States adjusts is policy, and perhaps recommit to economic projects such as a Russian gas pipeline when the time is appropriate, Putin could seek to maneuver in either a more helpful or complicating fashion for the United States.

If Putin merely wished to continue playing the role of a disruptive power complicating matters abroad for the United States, he could use the summit to present a joint front with North Korea against the use of sanctions by the U.S. and to announce limited economic agreements with North Korea within the confines of Russia’s carve out in the UN sanctions or other unprohibited areas. While this might have limited economic utility for North Korea, it would signal to the United States that Russia can complicate matters for the United States on the Korean Peninsula. As for Kim’s hopes that Russia might more explicitly break with sanctions and allow more North Korean workers, a slackening of enforcement seems the best that Kim could hope for from even a Russia looking to make mischief.

The summit chiefly presents Putin with an opportunity to deal Russia into talks regarding the Korean Peninsula. If Putin were to strike a deal with Kim to take positive steps, such as to again dismantle the Sohae test facility in exchange for Russia putting North Korean satellites in orbit, it would take the prospect of a North Korean satellite launch off the table and show Putin to be player who can help to bridge issues in the talks, and perhaps allow Russia to carve out a larger role going forward.  Up to this point, Russia has been peripheral. The question is whether Putin wants to change that.

As a Putin-Kim summit becomes more likely, the challenge that Kim Jong-un faces is that meeting with Vladimir Putin is a stronger step towards relieving diplomatic and military pressure rather than economic pressure. If Kim truly wants to pursue economic reforms he needs to either abandon hopes of sanctions relief and push for deep ties with China, or find a way get sanctions relief from the United States which would provide him with opportunity to pursue reform while minimizing dependence on China or any one state.  Putin may have more to gain but his calculation will be based on the kind of relationship he wants with the United States and China, not with North Korea.

Troy Stangarone is the Senior Director for Congressional Affairs and Trade at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the authors alone.

Photo from Jonathan Davis’ photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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Growing Congressional Assertiveness on U.S. Foreign Policy: Implications for Korea

By Phil Eskeland

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted by a wide bipartisan margin for an amendment expressing opposition to a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan.  Nearly every Republican Senator and more than half of the Senate Democratic Conference supported this amendment.  This vote comes after confusing pronouncements from the Trump Administration that U.S. troops would soon be leaving Syria and Afghanistan.  It also comes just one week after another legislative effort, offered by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), to oppose the lifting of sanctions against a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which garnered the support of not just every Senate Democrat, but also 11 Senate Republicans.  What was notable about yesterday’s vote was the author of the amendment:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who sets the legislative agenda for Senate Republicans and, by practical effect, for President Donald Trump.

Last year, there were a few examples of the Republican-led Congress blazing its own trail in setting some aspects of U.S. foreign policy apart from the Trump Administration such as a rare prohibition on the ability of the President to waive sanctions against Russia.  However, with the departure of some key national security advisers and Cabinet officials during the past year who were thought to be the “adults” in the room to manage President Trump divergence from traditional Republican orthodoxy on foreign policy and with the gains Democrats made in the 2018 elections, many Republican national security “hawks” are coming to the conclusion that they need to differentiate themselves from President Trump on several fronts.

This may have implications for U.S. policy towards North Korea.  Last December, the President signed into law the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (P.L. 115-409), which makes clear that the policy of the United States with regard to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs is the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of such programs.”  The new law also states that “it is the policy of the United States to continue to impose sanctions” on North Korea until it “is no longer engaged in the illicit activities described” in various U.S. Executive Orders and United National Security Council resolutions.

In addition, earlier this week, Representative Mike Gallagher (WI-8th) introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R.889) with three other Republicans and four other Democrats to renew the restrictions on the ability for the President to reduce the number of U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula below 22,000 personnel.

These legislative efforts may complicate negotiations with North Korea, particularly if the upcoming summit meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un leads to a relaxation of sanctions without a clear path towards dismantling the existing stockpile.  If defense “hawks” in the U.S. conclude that North Korea continues to engage in various illicit activities, then implementing any agreement would be very problematic.  Recall that the Agreed Framework of 1994 did not succeed, in part, because of Congressional reluctance and resistance to fulfilling the American side of the bargain by slow-walking the provision to provide aid to North Korea.  This did not allow the completion of the light-water reactor and delayed the delivery of heavy fuel oil on several occasions.  From 1995 until 2006 (excepting 18 months from 2001 until 2002, Democrats controlled the Senate), Republicans controlled Congress.  Thus, it is of the utmost importance for the Trump Administration to continuously brief and inform Members of Congress regarding U.S. policy towards North Korea to garner their support and to avoid a repetition of previous failed diplomatic efforts to end weapons of mass destruction threat from the DPRK.

Phil Eskeland is Executive Director for Operations and Policy at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are his own.

Picture taken by Lance Corporal Zachery Laning, U.S. Marine Corps via Wikimedia Commons

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Moon and Putin on North Korea and Economic Cooperation

By Juni Kim

South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived in Moscow earlier today for a three-day state visit to Russia, the first such visit by a South Korean president since 1999. In a first-time feat for a South Korean president, Moon addressed Russia’s lower parliamentary house and emphasized Russia’s key role in helping achieve peace on the Korean peninsula.

He is set to hold a bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, where a number of agreements are expected to be signed. The two had previously met when Moon attended the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok last September, where both leaders highlighted their two countries’ shared economic and security interests. Much has changed in the time since with North Korea’s surprise diplomatic warming in early 2018 followed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s summit tour. When Moon and Putin meet tomorrow, Kim and North Korea’s intentions will certainly be a top discussion point for both leaders.

Both countries’ leaders have previously mentioned the role trilateral relations with North Korea can play in integrating the country into the economic infrastructure in Northeast Asia and building peace on the peninsula. In his remarks at the Eastern Economic Forum last year, Putin commented, “We could deliver Russian pipeline gas to Korea and integrate the power lines and railway systems of Russia, the Republic of Korea and North Korea. The implementation of these initiatives will be not only economically beneficial, but will also help build up trust and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Moon reiterated the importance of trilateral relations in his address this morning to the Russian parliamentary State Duma stating, “When a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is established, economic cooperation between North and South Korea will become regularized and expand to trilateral cooperation involving Russia.”

When Moon met with Kim Jong-un for their first inter-Korean summit in April, Moon handed Kim a USB thumb drive with an economic roadmap to show the North Korean leader an enticing alternative option to Kim’s nuclear program. Part of the plan included the before-mentioned integrated pipelines and railways with Russia, and Moon’s summit talking points likely include reemphasizing Russia’s potential role in helping integrate North Korea into the regional economy. Much to the ire of many American observers, Russia embraces such opportunities to act as a facilitator for peninsula relations, and Russian officials have stated that both Moon and Kim received invitations to this year’s Eastern Economic Forum.

North Korean issues aside, both Moon and Putin are expected to highlight the economic relations between South Korea and Russia. In 2017, both countries saw a large 40% increase in bilateral trade, which Moon previously commented on as “just the beginning” in South Korea-Russia trade. For Moon, increased trade and economic cooperation with Russia fits into his administration’s New Northern Policy, an initiative started by the president to push for joint economic projects with China, Russia, and other Northeast Asian countries. During last year’s Eastern Economic Forum, Moon proposed “nine bridges” of economic cooperation with Russia including gas, rail, sea routes, shipbuilding, working groups, and agriculture.

In lighter matters, Moon is also expected to attend the FIFA World Cup during his visit and watch the South Korean team play against Mexico on Saturday. Moon shared his congratulations to the Russian team earlier today during his address to the State Duma.

Juni Kim is the Program Manager and Executive Assistant at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI). The views expressed here are the author’s alone. 

Photo from Miguel Sala’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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Estonia’s Take on North Korea

By Mark Tokola

Similar to the U.S. “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service has published its 2018 report, “International Security and Estonia.”  It is an estimable report because, as Bloomberg reports, the Estonians have rich insights on Russia.  The report also has an interesting perspective on North Korea, to which it devotes a chapter, “North Korea’s Weapons Program Continues.”  Within the introduction is this explanation, “In spite of the fact that the Korean Peninsula is geographically far from us, increased tensions in that region also impact our security.  We are therefore keeping a close eye on the situation…”

On Russia, Estonia’s predominant interest, the report states: “Regarding intervention in the North Korean crisis, Russia’s ambition is clear: to become an internationally recognized global actor, and to undermine the role of the U.S at the same time.  Russia is exploiting the conflict to spread a narrative that the U.S. is principally to blame in the North Korea question.  Russia volunteers itself as a ‘peace dove’ which prefers diplomatic channels and could possibly broker talks.”

The Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service believes that China has increased economic pressure on North Korea and has implemented UN sanctions, but also believes that China will not push North Korea to the brink, “as it fears regime collapse, war and refugee flows.  China is probably not prepared to completely cut off North Korea economically before the U.S. is prepared to hold talks or the U.S. and China have a joint future plan for North Korea if the regime should indeed crumble.”  The report states that “security considerations” have led Beijing to adopt an increasingly critical position towards Pyongyang, because North Korea’s actions are strengthening relations among the U.S., Japan and South Korea – a development that China “does not view favorably.”  The Estonian report says that China also fears that secondary sanctions imposed on China by the U.S. could hurt China’s integration into the international financial and economic system, something it seeks.

Regarding North Korea itself, the reports judges that “For Kim, the development of the weapons systems takes top priority and it will continue in 2018, especially now that he is closer to achieving his goal.”  “It is possible that Kim is satisfied with the current state of the nuclear program and will henceforth put more emphasis on improving its missile (in particular re-entry) technology.  This will require further tests that will in turn increase the chance of something going wrong.”  The Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service is skeptical that sanctions will force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program in the near future, but believes they are effective enough that North Korean is being forced to find alternative sources of hard currency.  They predict that North Korean cyberattacks with economic motives may increase.  Estonia is a world leader on cyber issues and includes North Korean ransomware as a significant threat along with Russian cyber-espionage and Chinese industrial cyber-espionage.  The report also flags the possibility of North Korea selling weapons technology to terrorist groups.

Again reflecting Estonia’s emphasis on understanding Russia, another chapter of the report is titled “The FIFA World Cup in Russia – Putin’s PR Project.”  The report describes Russian preparations for the World Cup as being marred by incidents of corruption and other scandals.  The so-called ‘super-stadium’ in St. Petersburg in particular is structurally flawed, potentially unsafe, and six times over budget.  The nexus with North Korea is that, “In spring 2017, the international media reported on the difficult working and living conditions faced by the foreign workforce – mainly from North Korea – used for construction of the St. Petersburg stadium…the football federations in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland [have] raised the issue with FIFA.”

The U.S. and South Korean effort to exert maximum pressure on North Korea will be aided by third countries’ understanding of the situation on the peninsula.  The Estonian report concludes its chapter on North Korea with, “The increase in tensions on the Korean Peninsula in particular and in Asia in general require the full attention of Europe.”

Mark Tokola is the Vice President of the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are his own.

Photo from Jonathan’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.


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New North Korea Sanctions: The Best that Could be Expected

By Troy Stangarone

After North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, there were expectations that the United Nations would pass a new round of sanctions that would potentially be debilitating for North Korea. Early discussions included bans on exports of oil to North Korea and cutting off North Korea’s use of overseas laborers to earn hard currency. Steps that far were always unlikely, but based on initial reporting of the expected measures in the new sanctions resolution and a review of a recent draft of the new sanctions resolution, the United States likely achieved the best result it could have hoped for in a new round of UN sanctions.

With the last round of UN sanctions having been passed only on August 5 and barely implemented, there was likely always going to be resistance to harsh new sanctions before member states had a chance to determine if the last round of sanctions were having an effect. It takes time for sanctions to take effect and states such as China and Russia most likely would not want to pile on a significant amount without knowing how the new sanctions would impact North Korea.

Additionally, complete bans on exports of oil to North Korea and the use of North Korean laborers were always unlikely, despite the serious nature of North Korea’s most recent nuclear test. While the Global Times and others suggested that China should end its supply of oil to North Korea if it tested another nuclear weapon, Beijing also has concerns about the long-terms stability of the regime in Pyongyang, concerns it is unlikely to let go of in the near future.  China wasn’t the only one to back off of the suggestion of cutting off North Korea’s oil supply — Russia also quickly dismissed suggestions of an oil embargo. Without Russia’s support both in the UN and as a potential supplier of oil to North Korea, stringent sanctions on oil were unlikely.

Banning the use of North Korean labor was also always a longshot. China and Russia are the two largest consumers of North Korean labor, and Russia in particular was unlikely to support a complete ban, as North Korea supplies an important source of labor in the sparsely populated Russian Far East.

That being said, the new resolution does move the process forward in terms of restricting North Korea’s ability to earn hard currency and to limit its imports of oil. Much as initial caps on North Korean exports of coal, the new resolution would place a cap on North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum at 500,000 barrels for the rest of 2017 and 2 million for subsequent years. Also similar to the coal caps, it would require states to report their exports to the United Nations on a monthly basis.

It also places a softer cap on exports of crude oil to North Korea, which China provides to Pyongyang as aid. The soft cap limits exports to the amount exported in the prior year, but since China does not report its exports of crude to North Korea and there is no reporting requirement for crude, there is still the potential for China to export more than would be expected to North Korea.

The new restrictions on use of North Korean labor, while a step forward, are also potentially exploitable. While it would prohibit countries from issuing work permits for North Korean nationals except for humanitarian purposes or for objectives consistent with prior UN resolutions, it also allows contracts signed prior to the resolution to continue. This means that we are not likely to seen a reduction in North Korean workers abroad soon.

The resolution also contains a ban on the export of North Korean textiles, potentially reducing North Korea’s earnings of hard currency by $800 million. While this will remove one of North Korea’s major remaining export items, textiles are also a labor-intensive industry. By banning exports of textiles, this also removes one potential tool for reshaping North Korea over time — developing a larger consumer base that can eventually pressure the regime internally.

While this may have been the best that could be achieved at the United Nations, it is disappointing that China and Russia would not support more robust sanctions against North Korea. While the new sanctions continue to restrict North Korea’s ability to earn hard currency, more should have been done in response to North Korea’s test of a thermonuclear device. By holding back on more stringent sanctions, China and Russia risk sending a signal to North Korea that it should not be worried about strict consequences for their actions.

Despite China and Russia’s reluctance to go along with more stringent sanctions, it is important for the United States and its allies to continue to maintain Moscow and Beijing’s cooperation. This is not a problem that the United States can solve on its own.

Troy Stangarone is the Senior Director for Congressional Affairs and Trade at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from United Nations Photo’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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About The Peninsula

The Peninsula blog is a project of the Korea Economic Institute. It is designed to provide a wide ranging forum for discussion of the foreign policy, economic, and social issues that impact the Korean peninsula. The views expressed on The Peninsula are those of the authors alone, and should not be taken to represent the views of either the editors or the Korea Economic Institute. For questions, comments, or to submit a post to The Peninsula, please contact us at ts@keia.org.