The announced summit on Thursday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is a date that the Kremlin has been waiting for four years to gain prominence in one of the great challenges of global security: denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Kim made an ugly to Moscow in May 2015 when he refused to accept an invitation to Moscow to participate in the 70th anniversary celebrations of the victory over Nazi Germany. Last year, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, invited him back to Russia on his visit to Piongyang, a meeting that now materializes.
The Kremlin has been respectful of the classic North Korean hermetism and has not given details of Kim’s visit due to “security considerations”.
The presidential spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, has merely pointed out that the two leaders will address the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, bilateral relations and regional cooperation.
It is expected that the full attention of the talks between Putin and Kim in Vladivostok will focus on the denuclearization problem, in which Moscow, Pyongyang and Beijing also make a common front regarding the method to achieve that end.
While the US wants Pionyang to eliminate its nuclear, missile and chemical and biological weapons programs before offering concessions to Kim, Russia advocates granting security guarantees and some measures of reciprocity in exchange for denuclearization.
“It is clear that, without the most active participation of Russia, articulating this mechanism is impossible,” said the Russian ambassador to Pyongyang, Alexandr Matsegora, referring to the failure of the summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump.
After the slump they experienced in the 1990s, under Putin, relations between Moscow and Pyongyang are at a “good time,” Gleb Ivashéntsov, the vice president of the Council of International Affairs and former Russian ambassador to South Korea, told Efe.
The diplomat said that the sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council against North Korea reduce the bilateral agenda practically to political dialogue, since they have frozen important joint projects that also included South Korea.
“They (the North Koreans) understand Moscow’s position,” Ivashéntsov said, referring to Russia’s support for the sanctions, which also received the approval of China, the biggest ally of the Pyongyang regime.
Russian Labor Minister Maxim Topilin has announced that by the end of this year all North Korean citizens working in Russia under intergovernmental agreements will leave the country in accordance with the UN resolution.
By November 2018, up to 11,000 North Koreans were working in Russia, under conditions that human rights organizations denounce as practically slavery, since they must hand over most of it to the North Korean State.
“To solve the problem we must first begin by reducing the tension between the two Koreas and then giving security guarantees to North Korea,” said the former Russian Ambassador to Seoul.
But, in Ivashentsov’s opinion, Washington’s single guarantees are insufficient, since the United States “has demonstrated its inability to fulfill agreements.”
He cited as an example the US abandonment of the missile defense treaties and short and medium range missiles (INF), as well as the nuclear agreement with Iran.
“In fact, the US proposes to North Korea the same thing that the agreement with Iran contemplated, but the North Koreans have seen what happened, so the guarantees must be multilateral,” said Iváshentsov.
Therefore, in Moscow do not expect great progress towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, a concept that for the Kremlin excludes the possibility that the US can deploy tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.
“You can not expect quick results, first of all, Kim Jong-un has strengthened his positions both within his country and internationally,” warns Iváshentsov.
The consolidation of the third party of the communist dynasty of the Kim, is due, in the opinion of the expert, that “he has shown his people that he has achieved more than his father (Kim Jong-Il and his grandfather (Kim Il-sung) He placed the world’s greatest imperialist at the negotiating table and forced him to talk. “
According to Ivástentsov, if Kim has strengthened his positions, those of Trump are not enviable, since it is hard to imagine that the North Korean leader would like to close a long-term agreement with the head of the White House, which, almost certainly, would not count on the support of the US Congress.