Not very long ago we were discussing the budding bromance between Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, as well as the many similarities in “style” which they may share. At the time I wondered whether or not Erdogan would be looking to expand his circle of new friends to include other ruthless autocrats who may share similar interests and want to join forces. On my list of possible suspects was North Korea’s diminutive and psychotic leader.
Well… he’s not talking to Erdogan yet, but Kim Jong Un reportedly would like to develop some ties that bind with Putin, so it’s as good of a starting place as any. (Newsweek)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent Russian President Vladimir Putin a friendly message expressing his desire for greater relations between the two countries.
Putin will meet with South Korea’s president next month, when he will seek to strengthen trade with Seoul.
However, it is likely that the increased tension between the North and South, brought about by Pyongyang’s recent nuclear tests, will also play a part in the discussion. Russia, China and North Korea all oppose U.S. moves to arm South Korea with anti-missile defense capabilities.
In terms of international relations, this is a complicated recipe for disaster, but it might not come to fruition very quickly or easily. North Korea remains a pariah to nearly everyone but China (and even they get sick of Kim at times) so Putin may not be eager to build that relationship at the risk of angering everyone else. Also… what does he have to gain? North Korea has almost nothing to offer Russia and they are too distant to offer the type of border concerns that Kim brings to the table with the Chinese.
At the same time, as the Newsweek analysis notes, Russia isn’t thrilled with any military expansion in South Korea and they won’t be wild about our ongoing involvement there. Who knows? He might be willing to extend a tentative olive branch.
So where does Erdogan come into all of this? For the time being he doesn’t. But if he continues to consolidate his power and get cozy with Vladimir Putin, he’ll doubtless want other “friends” of similar inclinations. If Putin makes the first move with Kim Jong Un, don’t be shocked if Erdogan is invited over for some tea and rice wine shortly thereafter.