09 May 2018
Putin and North Korea: Exploring Russian interests around the peninsula
The security situation in Northeast Asia has dominated much of international reporting over the last 1.5 years, culminating in the recent historic inter-Korean summit as well as a potential Kim-Trump meeting.
This Strategic Insights paper offers an analysis of what remains an often overlooked and underestimated connection: Russia’s interests on and around the Korean Peninsula. ASPI Researcher, Jacqueline Westermann, argues that it would be fatal to underestimate the Kremlin’s interests in the region, as ‘Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a stakeholder in the region, a partner to Pyongyang and a party to the previous Six-Party Talks’.
While it isn’t a top priority for the Kremlin, Russian involvement could play a handy part in Putin’s greater strategy to expand Russia’s engagement in the world. To illustrate Moscow’s specific motivations for being involved, the analysis is based on statements given by Russian government officials during 2017, as well as insights from Russian North Korea experts.
The paper portrays the geopolitical, strategic, economic and national policy interests that are driving the Russian government’s attentiveness towards the peninsula and Northeast Asia, and provides an outlook on potential Russian involvement, as well as options for the international community on what to expect from that.