255 ViewsComments Off on Putin to US: Don’t play along with North Korea
September 7, 2017
By Joshua Berlinger and Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
Vladivostok, Russia (CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula Thursday, telling an economic forum that the United States could be playing into North Korea’s hands by trying to ramp up the pressure on Pyongyang.
“It’s counterproductive to inflate this military hysteria. This leads nowhere,” Putin said, speaking alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga at an economic summit in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok Thursday.
The Russian leader has been unusually outspoken about North Korea and how the global community should respond in the wake of the country’s North Korea’s sixth nuclear test Sunday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Thursday, September 7.
Most countries have condemned North Korea, with the United States, Japan and South Korea pushing for strong sanctions to punish the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korea’s Minister of External Economic Relations Kim Yong Jae, who is at the forum, said his country will “respond to barbaric attempts to exert pressure by the US by our strong countermeasures,” according to the Russian state-run Tass news agency.
“Attempts to use unprecedented aggressive sanctions and pressure to intimidate us and make us reverse our course, are a huge mistake,” Kim said. “The United States should by all means keep in mind the nuclear status of our country, who owns nuclear and hydrogen bombs, and intercontinental ballistic missiles.”
China and Russia, which also have denounced the nuclear test, are calling for more dialogue.
“It’s a provocation from North Korea, it’s obvious,” Putin said of the nuclear test, North Korea’s sixth. “They count on a specific reaction from the partners and they get it. Why are you playing along with it? Have ever you thought about it?”
Putin and Abe held a bilateral meeting Thursday morning at the summit, after which Abe told reporters North Korea “has no bright future if it continues its current path.”
“Japan and Russia will work together in the international society for that,” Abe said in televised statement.
Breaking the cycle of escalation 04:52
Putin’s warnings haven’t stopped the Untied States from trying to pursue a tough global response to the nuclear test, especially at the United Nations.
The US has proposed a new UN Security Council resolution, according to a UN diplomat, to punish North Korea by freezing the assets of Kim Jong Un and members of the ruling Worker’s Party; fully banning exports of oil to North Korea; banning all textile imports from North Korea; and banning North Korean laborers generating earnings overseas.
“The time for half measures in the Security Council is over. The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means, before it’s too late. We must now adopt the strongest possible measures,” Nikki Haley, the US’ top representative at the UN, said Monday.
Haley may have trouble getting other Security Council members — especially Russia and China, who each hold veto power — to sign onto the draft sanctions as they’re currently written.
China grapples with North Korea challenge02:40
South Korea’s Moon and Russia’s Putin met on the sidelines of the economic summit Wednesday, where Moon tried to persuade his counterpart to agree to banning oil exports to North Korea.
Moon’s chief press secretary, Yoon Young-chan, said Putin dismissed the idea, as the Russian leader believes no amount of pressure will force North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
Why North Korea wants nukes and missiles
North Korea has long maintained it wants nuclear weapons and long-range missiles in order to deter the United States from attempting to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang looks at states like Iraq — where former dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown by the United States, and Libya — the country’s late leader, Moammar Gaddafi, gave up his nuclear ambitions for sanctions relief and aid, only to be toppled and killed after the US intervened in the country’s civil unrest — and believes that only being able to threaten the US homeland with a retaliatory nuclear strike can stop American military intervention.
Many experts believe North Korea would not use the weapons first. Kim Jong Un values his regime’s survival above all else and knows the use of a nuclear weapon would start a war he could not win, analysts say.
“They know it and they see nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction as the only way for them to protect themselves,” Putin said Thursday.
Moscow only exports about 40,000 tons of oil to Pyonyang, a tiny percentage of Russia’s overall trade, Putin said, according to Yoon.
Another missile test?
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Thursday his country expects their northern neighbors to test-fire the type of long-range missile designed to deliver a nuclear warhead to far-off places like the United States on Saturday, an important North Korean holiday.
“The situation is very grave. It doesn’t seem much time is left before North Korea achieves its complete nuclear armament,” the prime minister told a meeting of defense ministers in Seoul.
South Korea has carried out multiple military drills since the nuclear test. Authorities also moved the final pieces of a controversial US-built missile defense system arrived at a base in southern South Korea, greeted by throngs of protesters.
Russia and China opposed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, as both say it has the potential of fueling an arms race.
Analysts say both countries, however, are also concerned that the system’s advanced radar could be used to look inside their own countries or potentially even limit their own deterrent capabilities.
CNN’s Taehoon Lee, Richard Roth, Laura Koran, Chie Kobayashi and Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.
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