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Why is Russia standing aloof on the Korean Peninsula?

23 8 5

FOR MORE than a year there has been a flurry of diplomatic activity on the Korean Peninsula.

But Russia is conspicuously absent from the big game.

President Vladimir Putin is yet to meet his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un, who has already held four summits with Chinese President Xi Jinping, three meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and one rendezvous with US President Donald Trump.

Moscow did host the first ever Russia–China–North Korea trilateral at the vice foreign minister level in October 2018.

Russia is also calling for the easing of sanctions on North Korea to reward Pyongyang for its peaceful gestures such as the nuclear and missile testing moratorium.

SEE ALSO: What’s holding back Japan’s peace treaty with Russia?

Still, Russia’s current North Korea policy seems rather perfunctory. It lacks drive and energy, indicating that Moscow’s top priorities are elsewhere.

The Kremlin’s main geopolitical game at present is in the Middle East, not East Asia.

In the wake of Russia’s intervention in Syria, Putin has emerged as the kingpin of the Middle East.

This region is now consuming much of Moscow’s foreign policy bandwidth, raising the question of how much is left to spare elsewhere.

This is not to say Moscow ignores the Korean Peninsula. But it treats the Peninsula as more or less a secondary priority on the list of Russian foreign policy concerns.

Russia’s relative passivity on the Korean Peninsula is also explained by Russia’s limited economic resources.

Moscow cannot afford to generously subsidise........

© Asian Correspondent