As we discussed on Tuesday, the anticipated summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is underway. The two leaders and their diplomatic teams are holding meetings on an island just offshore from Vladivostok. What’s not clear at this point is precisely what Putin wants to accomplish. Thus far, the statements coming out from the summit sound like a large bunch of nothing. (Associated Press)
Russian President Vladimir Putin said after his summit with Kim Jong Un Thursday that the North Korean leader is ready to proceed toward denuclearization — but needs solid security guarantees to do so.
Putin said that he will be willing to share details of the summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, adding that “there are no secrets.” He noted that Kim himself encouraged him to explain certain nuances of Pyongyang’s position to Trump.
The summit on Russky Island, across a bridge from the far-eastern port city of Vladivostok, reflected Russia’s effort to emerge as an essential player in the North Korean nuclear standoff, a role that would raise Moscow’s global clout and its leverage with Washington.
Putin seems to be getting the same nonsense from Kim that the diminutive dictator has gone back on before. If Putin is to be believed, Kim is talking about denuclearization moving forward if he gets “solid security guarantees.” But neither Donald Trump nor Xi Jinping has ever taken those security guarantees off the table. Kim’s main fear is that without his nukes the west will come to invade his country and depose his family. While that would certainly make the world a better place, nobody is seriously talking about invading North Korea and he knows it.
What Kim really wants is for the sanctions to be lifted, and at least up until now, that’s not a line the Russians have been willing to fully cross. If Kim is just looking for Putin to put pressure on us to cut a deal, that’s understandable on his part. But it’s also not likely to work. (Or at least I’m praying it won’t.)
The other sign that this may be much ado about nothing is the initial statements released by both leaders. Check this out:
“We discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula and exchanged opinions about what should be done to improve the situation and how to do it,” Putin said. Kim described the talks as “candid and meaningful.”
“The reason we visited Russia this time is to meet and share opinions with your excellency, President Putin, and also share views on the Korean Peninsula and regional political situation, which has garnered the urgent attention of the world, and also hold deep discussions on strategic ways to pursue stability in the regional political situation and on the matters of jointly managing the situation,” Kim said.
What sort of word salad is that? They’re getting together to “discuss the situation” and “share views on the situation.” That’s just super. So you’re basically saying that you agreed to a series of talks so you could talk. Well done, boys.
Kim is still a murderous, lying tyrant who can’t be trusted any further than you could throw him. If Putin falls for this act he’s going to wind up looking foolish.