Not least among those sanctions violators is Russia itself, though Putin is after larger game. Might another nuclear showdown on the Korean Peninsula put Russia in a position to negotiate the resolution — and win some sanctions relief for itself in the bargain? Creating crises in order to solve them is the usual method by which cunning dictatorships often win concessions from risk-averse democracies.
And another crisis seems to be coming. Satellites have found secret North Korean missile bases, and there are new indications of reprocessing activities at a nuclear site. Pyongyang has also test-fired a new weapon, started rebuilding a missile test site it had previously begun dismantling, demanded Mike Pompeo’s removal from nuclear talks and issued a year-end deadline for the U.S. to meet its terms.
This is not the behavior of a regime that thinks it has much to fear from the American president. It’s the behavior of a regime that has his number.