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Putin-Kim Summit Shows Russia as Hopeful Mediator for Korean Denuclearization

Vladamir Putin with Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un.
Russian President Vladamir Putin with Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un. (Photo: Kremlin.ru)

“I was given the impression that the North Korean leader shares the same point of view. And we need guarantees of security, that’s all. We need to think about this all together.”

Last week, North Korean president Kim Jong-Un visited Russia’s port city of Vladivostok to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a two-day summit on April 25 and 26.

Jong-Un first arrived in Russia at Khasan, a border town, before continuing his trip on to Vladivostok, while Putin reached the location of the meeting 30 minutes ahead of the bilateral talks.

Jong-Un’s Russia visit came following faltered talks with the U.S in Hanoi, Vietnam last February, which ended abruptly and with no agreements reached.

Reportedly, Washington demanded complete denuclearization without any exceptions, but Pyongyang wanted a gradual denuclearization with an assurance that the U.S. would lift economic sanctions.

Jong-Un Needs Security Guarantees Before it Denuclearizes

Putin told reporters that all negotiating parties could achieve denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula through international laws. He added that Jong-Un needs guarantees about denuclearization.

“We need to restore the power of international law, to return to a state where international law, not the law of the strongest, determines the situation in the world,” Putin stated.

“I was given the impression that the North Korean leader shares the same point of view. And we need guarantees of security, that’s all. We need to think about this all together.”

Putin elaborated that North Korea is reluctant to fulfill Washington’s demands to stop operations of nuclear sites because U.S. guarantees are not convincing enough for North Korea, especially from the perspective of security in the Korean Peninsula.

Any guarantees from Washington, Putin further explained, should also be supported by other countries which once participated in nuclear talks such as Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

Putin stated Moscow will support any efforts that can reduce tension in the region and prevent nuclear conflict from erupting and which are based on mutual agreements that can offer a win-win solution for all, including North Korea.

Furthermore, Putin hailed his North Korean counterpart as an open, wise, and attractive figure. Putin was optimistic that an agreement on North Korea’s nuclear program could become a reality.

Putin expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the talks with Kim Jong-Un and promised to discuss it with the U.S. and China. He stressed that no conspiracies exist between himself and Jong-Un.

US Reaction to Putin Jong-Un Summit

President Donald Trump welcomed the summit between Jong-Un and Putin and added that Putin can help the process of denuclearizing North Korea.

“I appreciated President Putin’s statement yesterday. He wants to see it done also. I think there is a lot of excitement for getting a deal done with North Korea,” Trump said.

Trump also welcomed the idea of involving China and Russia to help North Korean to create peace in the Korean Peninsula.

“I appreciate that Russia and China are helping us,” POTUS continued, adding that China wants to help as it does not want to see North Korea have a nuclear arsenal either.

Will the Jong-Un-Putin Meeting Affect Nuclear Talks?

Russia is likely using the Vladivostok summit to expand its influence in the Korean Peninsula. Putin’s foreign policy advisor, Yuri Ushakov, told the Russian press that Moscow would try to salvage any positive progressive after the collapse of the Trump-Jong-Un summit last February.

However, many experts were pessimistic that the Vladivostok event would affect denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang given that both sides are headstrong and stick with their principles.

Nam Chang-hee, a political science professor at Inha University in South Korea, said that progress was unlikely as long as Washington insisted on a “big deal,” meaning the complete denuclearization of North Korea before removing any sanctions.

“As long as Washington insists on a big deal for North Korea, which is no way near Pyongyang’s road map of partial lifting of sanctions, there is little hope (for the Kim-Putin summit ) to have any effect.”

Jong-Un is, however, sending a strong message to Trump by meeting with Putin and making the statement that Washington cannot overlook Moscow’s support for Pyongyang.

“The summit may well be no other than a symbolic move demonstrating that Pyongyang under Kim’s leadership can also diversify its foreign policy from the China-oriented one,” Park Won-gon, a professor of international politics at Handong Global University in South Korea, explained.

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Yasmeen Rasidi

Yasmeen is a writer and political science graduate of the National University, Jakarta. She covers a variety of topics for Citizen Truth including the Asia and Pacific region, international conflicts and press freedom issues. Yasmeen had worked for Xinhua Indonesia and GeoStrategist previously. She writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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