North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is shrouded in the veil of political uncertainty, but analysts believe it could be a roundabout way to reboot denuclearization talks with the US.
The meeting is taking place in Vladivostok, 129 kilometers from the border Russia shares with North Korea. It is Russia’s shortest international border, only 17km along the Tyumen River. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, North Korea has figured little in Moscow’s geopolitical calculus, as Russia sided with the West in backing UN sanctions against Pyongyang.
The collapse of denuclearization talks between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Hanoi back in February, however, appears to have pushed Pyongyang and Moscow closer together. What does that mean for Washington?
Being a neighbor of North Korea, Russia has a natural stake in its stability, journalist and author Mary Dejevsky told RT. The summit will be a signal to Trump that Pyongyang has other countries to turn to, she said, but it’s not something that he should take as a personal affront.
“He might possibly tweet some supposedly horrified reaction, but actually he would understand exactly why [the summit] happened,” Dejevsky said.
The meeting with Putin comes less than two months after the failure of the North Korean leader’s summit with Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Hanoi talks faltered after Washington rejected Pyongyang’s request for partial sanctions relief in exchange for nuclear and missile concessions. Kim has blamed Trump’s hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the failure.