Russia Believes US Is Responsible for North Korea Nuclear Crisis
As reported by the authors Foreign Policy, July 4 was a bad day for Washington’s North Korea policy and not just because of Pyongyang’s successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. There was also a meeting that day in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at which they jointly declared their support for a de-escalation of the Korean dispute that would couple a freeze on North Korean nuclear and missile development with a hold on large-scale U.S. and South Korean military exercises.
Russia believes the only solution to the Korean dispute is negotiations with Pyongyang that result in security guarantees for the Kim Jong Un regime. Moscow supports placing limitations on the North’s nuclear program but is wary of sanctions and resolutely opposed to regime change.
The Kremlin believes that the Kim dynasty is strange, to be sure, but also rational. True, Kim Jong Un has nuclear weapons. But Russian analysts think that Kim knows that any offensive use of these weapons would result in a nuclear counterstrike by the United States, killing him and destroying his country. From the Russian perspective, the logic of mutually assured destruction that staved off nuclear weapons use during the Cold War is equally effective in preventing an attack from Pyongyang. Thus, many Russian analysts argue that North Korea’s nuclear program helps stabilize the situation, by giving Pyongyang more confidence in its security and by deterring the United States from launching a military strike.
In Russia’s view, the United States deserves at least as much blame for tensions on the Korean Peninsula as Pyongyang does. In this view, the Kim dynasty’s weapons programs are primarily about self-defense.
If Washington moderated its aims in the Korean Peninsula, accepting Pyongyang’s nuclear program and offering security assurances to North Korea, Moscow might participate in pressuring the North to stop weapons testing and missile development. But so long as Washington insists that a military solution or regime change is still on the table, the Kremlin will keep working to pin the blame not just on Kim Jong Un but on Donald Trump.