Monday, 20 May 2019
OPINION

From traditional partner to strategic counterweight

Updated at Wednesday, 24 Apr 2019, 18:18
The Hanoitimes - Russia would like to play a more decisive role in the process of finding solutions to political and security problems in Northeast Asia, including solutions to the nuclear issue of North Korea.
Russia 's president Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will have their first private encounter on April 25 in Russia's Vladivostock. This summit has been much anticipated in the world because it is the first time since 2011 the leaders of these two neighboring states in North East Asia will meet up. The negotiations on denuclearization issues between the US and North Korea seems to be deadlocked, their rhetorical mutual blame became fiercer and there were some new developments on the North Korea site worthy of great attention such as testing a new type of "tactical guided weapon" which was widely considered the signal of North Korea's growing disappointment with the US.
 
Russia’s Far East Development Minister Alexander Kozlov welcomes Kim. Photograph: Yuri Smityuk/TASS
Russia’s Far East Development Minister Alexander Kozlov welcomes Kim. Photograph: Yuri Smityuk/TASS
It is obviously North Korea turns to Russia in order to optimize the advantages it could get from enhancing cooperation with Russia just now. North Korea needs Russia as economic and trade partner, especially in the field of energy supply as well as Russia's political support in solving bilateral problems with the US. Until now, Russia and China have been the two most important supporters of North Korea in the issues where North Korea and the US have been confronting for a long time. The more complicated the relations between the US and North Korea, the more important Russia's support and cooperation represents for North Korea. This country would have Russia not only as a traditional partner but also, and now more than ever, a strategic counterweight to the US and maybe some other partners.

Until now, Russia has very little to say in the negotiating process between North Korea and the US. Besides economic and trade interests in promoting cooperation with North Korea, like getting access to rare minerals in North Korea or selling gas and oil to this country, Russia would like to play a more decisive role in the process of finding solutions to political and security problems in Northeast Asia, including and first of all, of course, solutions to the nuclear issue of North Korea. That is why Russia is eager to have Mr Kim traveling to Russia the sooner the better.

Sharing common borders with North Korea, Russia no longer wants to be disconnected of anything happening now and in the future in this region. Russia has no intention of making North Korea a counterweight but a close partner, even a strategic partner. The success of the Vladivostock Russia - North Korea summit would have the US try to involve Russia and to split up Russia and North Korea.
Ambassador Tran Duc Mau
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