Russia can play larger role in influencing North Korea

The only sensible comments in the present Korean crisis appear to be coming from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said: "We should not succumb to emotions and drive North Korea into a corner." (Putin, Moon call for more efforts to rein in N. Korea; Sept 7)

While acknowledging that China is not responsible for the crisis, the United States, nevertheless, is leaning heavily on it to check North Korea.

However, China alone cannot resolve the stalemate. That is why South Korea's President Moon Jae In dashed to Russia recently to seek help.

It is becoming clear that Russia, not China, has greater influence over North Korea.

There are Russian links in the training of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's scientists, as well as in the acquisition of his military hardware.

His latest intercontinental ballistic missiles are also of Russian design.

The speed, stealth and success with which he built the hydrogen bomb caught US intelligence by surprise, particularly when every effort had been made to stop this development.

The nexus between Russia and North Korea seems to be underestimated.

It appears that Russia is the only superpower Mr Kim respects.

The nexus between Russia and North Korea seems to be underestimated. It appears that Russia is the only superpower Mr Kim respects.

So why is Russia not playing a leading role in containing his ambition?

It is Russia, rather than China that can help solve the Korean problem, but only on Russian terms.

Tan Yip Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2017, with the headline 'Russia can play larger role in influencing North Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe