By Shoaib Khan, Published in ‘Journal of Asian Politics’ Raichur, Karnataka. January to June 2011, Vol of The present Scenario

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Changing situation for Russia

Among the Russian circles the situation which had arise after the sudden death of North Korean leader Kim-Il Sung, have changed the ground situation for Russia, though the talks had resumed between Pyongyang and Washington, there had been concerns in Moscow over the breakdown of these bilateral talks59. No doubt the Russian policy in post 1991 had been advanced from its Soviet predecessor’s proposal of regional arms control and security. It is mostly being moving around as conflicting, ambiguous and deceptive60.

During Putin’s era there was a political motivation that Moscow wants to use North Korea as their trumph card for Russia’s diplomacy. It is a fact that in North East Asia Russia’s voice is minimal. Kremlin naturally aimed at presenting as large entity as possible. Putin conducted a series of summit meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong –il. North Korea being the most secretive communist state of the world, Putin was one of the few leaders to have contacts with this reclusive state. The image which Kremlin wants to convey to the international community. The first Russian North Korean meeting in July 2000, thus was a diplomatic sensation61. This made the Russian President a star at the G-8 Okinawa summit which took place immediately after his visit to Pyongyang. The Russian President made public that North Korea would abandon its programme of developing the missiles as promised by its leader Kim Jong-il, and that these technology would be used only for peaceful purpose62. This act also served as an intermediary between North Korea and the West. Though the world had a doubt on North Korea’s commitment as presented by Russia, Putin kept resorting to his tactics of “Pokazukha” (Show). The constant visit of the then Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev and Konstantin Pulkovskii the Presidential Plenipotentiary envoy in the Far East Federal Districts who did spend a long time in Pyongyang as sign of conducting meetings with North Korean leaders63.

Putin has not been able to play a role of good office to the fact that it does not abide by the rule of give and take. The Moscow’s attitude towards Japan is a good example of President Putin’s proposed so-called “Iron Silk Road” from Asia to Europe through the Korean peninsula.


This route will connect The Trans Siberian Railroad (TSR) with the Trans Korean Railroad (TKR). The Russian plan is to first connect South and North Korea, then to link the connected Donghae lines in the east (Pusan-Kangrund-Wonsan) with the TSR at Khasan and finally to connect the Kongui line on the west coast (Seoul-Pyongyang-Sinuju) with the Gyeongwon Line (Seoul-Wonsan-Rajin-Khasan). The Russian plan a counter proposal to Chinese plan of first to connect the Kyongui line with the Trans China line(TCR) and then linking TCR with the TSR at Zhengzhou64. If Russian plans are serious for linking the Trans-Siberian Railroad with Trans-Korean railroads, then Kremlin should demonstrate its good intentions with Tokyo as it was felt. The Putin regime dealt with Japan in a similar way like his Soviet predecessors. One based on give and take principle and not on the principle of give and talk65. Russia is fully aware that as long as there is no communication between Pyongyang and Tokyo, Russia’s importance will remain intact. Once the contact is established between the two East Asian rivals, there will no longer need Moscow as a communication channel. The visit of former Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi to Pyongyang in September 2002 and May 2004 was a sign of depriving Moscow as a mediator’s role.

Putin Government’s closeness with Pyongyang also lies for economic significance. With regard to North Korea’s nuclear issue, there are some differences in the position taken by the US and Japan and that of China, Russia and South Korea. The fourth round of Six-party talks in 2005 clearly focused on this gap. The US and Japan were firm on their decision of not to allow North Korea to built a light water reactor for its suspicion that it might lead to the production of nuclear weapons. China, Russia and South Korea think the other way that some time in future that they may provide Pyongyang with the light water reactor. Beijing is keen to increase its trade with North Korea and there its need to have abundance supply of electricity. Moscow too is looking for an opportunity in the field of nuclear energy to its neighbour similar to the type it had sold to Iran66.


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