Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s head of non-proliferation and arms control issues has delivered a statement condemning US military drills in and around South Korea as well as Washington’s attempt to use sanctions to de-escalate the tensions in East Asia.
This comes after the US flew nuclear capable bombers closer to North Korea than at any time in over 17 years. The US bomber mission resulted in the following statement from Pyongyang’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. He said,
“The whole world should clearly remember it was the US who first declared war on our country. Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country”.
Ulyanov has characterised the recent developments in the following way,
“The military path is not an option for us. We reject it”.
“The massive maneuvers staged near the coast of North Korea are apparently meant to taunt the North Korean leader, to provoke him into some sloppy action”.
He then stated that any US led military assaults in North Korea would be “catastrophic not only for South Korea, but for the entire region”, including Russia which borders North Korea.
Turning to sanctions Ulyanov stated,
“Sanctions are not panacea, and our American partners, who are relying only on sanctions pressure are going nowhere. This means that they acknowledge their weakness and inability to find a better solution for this difficult situation, which requires an unorthodox approach”.
This “unorthodox approach” includes using economic incentives to alleviate tensions in Korea as opposed to militant sanctions and the threat of war. Tripartite economic cooperation between Russia and the two Korean states was recently proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Eastern Economic Conference in Vladivostok.
Russia and China have also been considering the possibility of transport and freight railways which traverse the Korean peninsula before entering both Russia and China.
Mikhail Ulyanov is historically correct insofar as US sanctions have generally only served to make countries more resolute in their opposition to US bullying techniques. Furthermore, North Korea has a long history of self-sufficiency both as a de-facto reality and due to the Junche idea of Kim Il-Sung which emphasises self-sufficiency as a stated goal of the North Koran political system.
President Putin acknowledged this when he recently stated,
“As I told my colleagues yesterday, they (North Koreans) will eat grass but will not stop their program as long as they do not feel safe. What can restore their security? The restoration of international law”.
Russia which has a better grasp of North Korea’s internal affairs than just about any country in the world, arguably even more so than China, realises all too well that threats and intimidation will only serve to embolden Pyongyang, thereby increasing regional and global tensions.
Journalist Pepe Escoabar recently wrote the following,
“DPRK’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho became an overnight sensation at the UN. His speech was sharp as a Javanese kris, containing the immortal line that it was now “all the more inevitable” that the DPRK’s rockets would “visit” the US mainland.
This guy is a seasoned pro – the son of Ri Myong-je, a former editor of the state KCNA news agency. He was also deputy chief of staff to Kim Jong-il (when I visited the DPRK 7 years ago, that was the case). He also studied English at Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies.
If the Trump Doctrine axis of evil scam were really interested in diplomacy, they would have arranged a [secret] meeting between Ri and T.Rex. As far as we know, nothing happened.
But then watch the REAL action taking place this coming week. Not via Ri, but via Choe Son Hui. She is director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s North American department, in charge of relations with the US. And guess where she’s going? RUSSIA.
She will be discussing the Korean Peninsula drama with Russian ambassador-at-large Oleg Burmistrov.
Go back to one of my Asia Times columns a few days ago describing the Russia-China strategy to deal with the DPRK; stability and connectivity. You won’t read anything remotely similar all across Western corporate media. It’s all there. I will be following the Choe-Burmistrov meeting closely. Stay tuned”.
Today’s statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry is yet a further indication that direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang are now inconceivable, due to the caustic environment created by Donald Trump’s insulting rhetoric towards the DPRK at the UN. It will be largely up to Russia to devise a new peace process for Korea, a process whose existence is in spite of, rather than reliant on the US.