Think of the Russia – US – North Korea situation as something like Good Cop – Bad Cop. Each part is integral to the success in resolving the problem.
The United States made most of the news in the West during the ending months of December and early January, as the US President pressed Kim Jong-un harder and harder with threats of military action, specified as a “bloody nose” attack.
North Korea had been engaged in bellicose rhetoric against the United States for years, and during the administrations of Presidents Bush and Obama, most of the time the publicized American response was to ignore the threats, while in not-so-visible channels, the North won minor concessions, or at least some attention and condemnation from the major world powers.
When Donald Trump became president, that changed. Instead of passively accepting and appeasing the rogue nation, President Trump responded with shocking ferocity and force and upped the ante each time Kim flew a missile or detonated a nuclear weapon. One of the American carrier fleets was positioned visibly close to the Korean Peninsula and a very public show was made to show Kim Jong-un that his rhetoric was not going to get a pass.
All the while, President Vladimir Putin was present.
And during the time that President Trump was threatening and doing his best to play the wildcard of intimidation, President Putin was counseling a non-aggressive and negotiated approach to the matter.
According to a piece in Russia Today, the Russian government also sees strong reason to claim credit for Jong-un’s turnabout as negotiations with the United States are poised to begin in May.
Pyongyang’s move to halt nuclear and missile tests is more the result of collective efforts, including that of Russia and China, than US threats to “wipe off the map” North Korea, a top Russian senator says.
On Friday, the North Korean leadership announced it is freezing the nuclear and ballistic missile programs and scrapping a major test site. The development could be the “news of the year,” head of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, Konstantin Kosachev, believes.
Yet, it is not the end of the long-running crisis in the region which was once “at the threshold of a nuclear conflict”. Much more lies ahead – from North Korea returning to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog, to Washington abandoning its aggressive rhetoric.
Russia’s approach to international matters leans heavily on international cooperation and reasonableness in approach to any situation. We have seen this over and over with Russia’s usual very polite and honest response to disputes with the United States over issues. They also used this together with China, Russia’s increasingly close partner nation, to apply pressure for peace on Kim Jong-un.
While the RT report is gently critical of the Americans for taking all the credit for bringing Kim to the negotiating table, it seems that the Russian media also overplays its own government’s role. In honest review of the history of this conflict between North Korea and the rest of the world, it seems apparent that both nations’ approach worked collaboratively, whether or not the intent was to do so.
Russia’s calm approach and unity with the Chinese, plus America’s fiery rhetoric (and unity with the Chinese) together put a level of pressure on the North Korean regime that had been unmatched. It would seem that both approaches simultaneously were unexpected by the North, and both suggested not only strong rhetoric (which has often been present in this dispute), but purposeful statement that North Korea’s shenanigans were to go no farther.
Now, imagine if Russia, China and the US teamed up like that all the time, and with stated unity? What kind of things might get done?
With such a united triad of great powers, nothing would be impossible.
Perhaps this is what the embedded Deep State in the USA is so afraid of.