North Korea and Russia share only a very short border, in Russia’s sparsely populated far east, precluding the kind of widespread smuggling said to be taking place on the border between the North and China. Mr. Kim has met four times with President Xi Jinping of China, seeking help from his country’s biggest trading partner, which accounts for more than 93 percent of the North’s external trade.
But by meeting with Mr. Putin on Thursday, Mr. Kim was seeking to reaffirm his new image among his people as a global player, despite what happened in Hanoi. His meeting with Mr. Putin also sends a signal to Washington that Mr. Kim is expanding his diplomatic chess game after his one-on-one diplomacy with Mr. Trump faltered.
“If perception is indeed reality, North Korea has come to be perceived as now a player in Northeast Asia, meaning Kim’s carefully calibrated P.R. offensive is working — much to Washington’s dismay,” said Harry J. Kazianis, the director of Korean studies at the Washington-based Center for the National Interest. “And in the long run, such a strategy could very well pay off, if Kim is no longer perceived as a threat, leading eventually to a weakened sanctions regime.”
With its talks with Washington stalemated, Mr. Kim may try to align his country more closely with Beijing, Moscow or both, as the United States tries to bring South Korea and Japan together to jointly deter China’s ascendancy and a nuclear-armed North Korea.
If Mr. Kim concludes that his two-way diplomacy with Mr. Trump is going nowhere, he may play on Mr. Putin’s desire to increase his influence in the region. The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, suggested Wednesday that Russia might welcome a revival of multilateral talks on North Korea, known as the six-party negotiations, that have been dormant for a decade.
“There are no other effective international mechanisms at the moment,” Mr. Peskov said. “Therefore, it is not possible to get completely detached from this mechanism. On the other hand, you know that other countries are also applying their efforts to achieve settlement. All efforts that really aim to denuclearize Korea and solve the two Koreas’ problem should be supported.”
Before they collapsed in 2009, the six-party talks had produced agreements to halt North Korea’s nuclear program, but the North later abrogated them. The negotiations included China, Russia, Japan, the United States, and North and South Korea.
News credit : Nytimes