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Putin’s new East policy doomed to fail without resolving N.K. nukes

Putin’s new East policy doomed to fail without resolving N.K. nukes

Posted September. 07, 2017 07:34,   

Updated September. 07, 2017 08:07

한국어

While attending the third Eastern Economic Forum that took place in Vladivostok, Russia, South Korean President Moon Jae-in had a summit talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. “We strongly condemn North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, and have agreed that resolving the North’s nuclear and missile issues is more important than anything,” President Moon said. According to South Korean presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan, however, the Russian leader expressed opposition to President Moon’s request to halt crude oil supply to the North, saying that the civilian sector in North Korea is feared to suffer damage.

Replying to President Moon who urged strong sanctions against Pyongyang, President Putin said that the North’s sixth nuclear test is a violation of the UN resolutions and is not acceptable. But he added that the world should not corner the North due only to negative sentiment, and cannot resolve the situation on the Korean Peninsula only through sanctions and pressure. Since it would not be possible to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue only through sanctions and pressure, the issue should be solved ultimately through dialogue. At this moment when North Korea is on nuclear stampede even by denying dialogue merely aimed at freezing of its nuclear weapons, the international community should apply maximum pressure on Pyongyang. At his telephone call with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that unless it is directed toward military solution, Russia is open to considering (sanctions against North Korea). Russia should also join the international community’s move to impose strong pressure on the North.

The annual "Third Eastern Economic Forum" that kicked off on Wednesday is third international conference that the Russian government is holding with an aim of developing its Far Eastern territory. The forum is an initiative that can be linked with the Moon Jae-in administration’s new northward policy aimed at creating an environment for peaceful cooperation in the Northeast Asia region. “I feel like the new East policy President Putin is pursuing and the New Northward Policy that I am pushing for share the same vision,” adding, “South Korea is the most optimal partner for Russia’s Far East development.” The two leaders agreed to a project to lay the foundation for investment and financing worth 2 billion U.S. dollars designed to support Far Eastern region development projects, and exchanged a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a Korean company investment promotion center in Vladivostok.

President Moon’s new northward policy is a three-way cooperation project between the two Koreas and Russia that includes linking of Trans-Korean Railroad and Trans-Siberian Railroad. However, be it northward policy or East policy, a project that involves North Korea, which is like a nuclear bomb, at a time when tension over the North’s nuclear weapons is mounting, would be nothing but a castle on the sand. It would be impossible for South Korea to persuade companies to invest in risky projects? To ensure success of their projects, removing the North’s threat is critical.

Against this backdrop, China’s northern combat command, the military unit for deployment on the Korean Peninsula in the event of armed conflict that oversees Chinese border with the North, posted on its website images of its most advanced long-range surface-to-air HQ-9 missile being loaded onto trucks during nighttime. The Chinese military is thus staging a drill in preparation for an emergency situation, including U.S. President Donald Trump’s possible use of military option. With tension mounting even between the U.S. and China over the North’s nuclear test, Putin’s new East Policy only sounds like nonsense. President Moon should more proactively persuade Russia by emphasizing that improving the South Korea-Russia relations rather than North Korea-Russia relations will better serve Russia’s national interest.