Our translation below is from rueconomics.ru (Economics Today), with commentary by Vince Dhimos.
It is easy to understand Russia’s interest in North Korea. The US position is the thorny one. Even though the US is willing to deal with China, another country with an economy that is not entirely market, the US position on North Korea is based on the fact that it refuses to be a US vassal and on the fact that the country is small and weak, and therefore easier to push around. Apologists of US foreign policy like to point out that the Soviet Union held Eastern Europe captive after the war and that this mistreatment fully justifies the fears of these nations that Russia might just take them over. The problem with this position is that in Soviet days, Russia did not come as an enemy causing death and destruction in the sense that the Germans did. The Germans completely bombed out the old city in Warsaw, for example. I witnessed the reconstruction efforts in the early 70s. They were building over the rubble, not just refurbishing damaged architecture. Germany came as an implacable enemy, killing vast numbers of especially Polish Jews. The Soviet Union held these territories as a buffer for fear that another Hitler could arise and invade again. The Soviets rebuilt over the ruins left by the Germans. And yet, incredibly, the Poles – like all the peoples of Eastern Europe – have long forgiven and forgotten the Holocaust and the atrocities of the Germans against the Poles, but still remember with resentment the Soviets who rebuilt their cities and gave them jobs, lifting them out of the economic crisis into which the Germans had plunged them.
Therefore, there is only one explanation for this double standard, and that is, US and NATO propaganda to keep alive the anti-Russian hostility that reigns in these nations. And that hostility has its origin in the fact that Russia refuses to treat the US as a superior. Ditto North Korea.
However, Russia seems to be counting on North Korea to eventually loosen up its command control of the economy and join the rest of the world, at which point Russia will be in a position to deal with it – a better position than the West enjoys. It looks like Putin has finally grasped that Kim Jong-un will never give up his nuclear program because in his view, it is the only thing standing between survival and another possible invasion of the kind that wound up killing a significant percentage of its population and destroying almost every settlement in his country in the 50s. It was not Russia or China that committed this near-genocide but the USA. If we can just keep that in mind, we can better understand Kim’s position. But Westerners must first overcome years of conditioning to understand the more rational viewpoint of the East.
QUOTE FROM BELOW:
“North Korea sees nuclear weapons as the main and only guarantee of the security for the ruling class, and therefore Pyongyang will never give up developments in this area. Its goal is to achieve the Indian version of events. That is, the country creates nuclear weapons, the whole world secretly recognizes them as a nuclear power and continues to trade, with political contacts and equal dialogue.”
“First we observed a rather long history of Kim's talks with US President Donald Trump, where each was playing his own game and actively saber-rattling. As a result, the dialogue failed.”
Putin’s detailed conversation with Kim Jong-un was a signal to the West
25 April 2019 Vladivostok
It is not for nothing that Putin called the conversation with Kim Jong Un thorough, and both Moscow and Pyongyang achieved their goals in the first dialogue at the summit level. This opinion was expressed ed by Vasily Mikheev, chief researcher and head of the group of the IMEMO (Institute of World Economy and International Relations) at the Russian Academy of Sciences in a conversation with FBA Economics Today [rueconomics.ru].
“Initially, Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia did not promise practical results - it was a visit to determine negotiating positions. That is why the parties did not prepare joint projects and agreements for official signing - the goal was completely different. They didn’t quite correctly identify one of the main topics of the talks - denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula although it is worth talking about the nuclear disarmament of North Korea, and here it must be said that this is an impossible task.
North Korea sees nuclear weapons as the main and only guarantee of the security for the ruling class, and therefore Pyongyang will never give up developments in this area. Its goal is to achieve the Indian version of events. That is, the country creates nuclear weapons, the whole world secretly recognizes them as a nuclear power and continues to trade and maintain political contacts and equal dialogue. Nobody encroaches on the state, as everyone is afraid of the bomb,” the expert notes.
Negotiations between the delegations of Russia and North Korea (DPRK), led by their leaders Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un, were held on Russky Island in Vladivostok. The one-to-one dialogue between the two heads of state lasted more than two hours, and then there was an extended meeting. The Russian president spoke about the topics of conversation. “Of course, we also talked about the situation on the Korean Peninsula, exchanged views on how and what needs to be done to ensure that the situation has good prospects for improvement,” Putin said.
"North Korea is a closed country, its economy is not a market economy, and the state has no money. Therefore, at a certain stage, Kim Jong-un began to bargain with world powers - first of all, over parts of its nuclear program, but without aiming at the complete disarmament of the state. Initially, we observed a rather extended history of Kim's talks with US President Donald Trump, where each was playing his own game and actively saber-rattling. As a result, the dialogue failed.
After that, Pyongyang tried to negotiate with South Korea, but that country is following the American policy, and therefore, there was no breakthrough. China pointedly and strictly adheres to UN sanctions against North Korea, so Kim’s last year’s dialogue with PRC leader Xi Jinping was fairly formal. Russia also complies with UN sanctions, but, nevertheless, Pyongyang is also trying to find support in Moscow for its actions. Putin’s dialogue with Kim is important for both sides,” the expert emphasizes.
The Russian leader called the conversation with the head of the DPRK "quite thorough."
"We were able to talk about the history of our interstate relations, and about the present day, the prospects for the development of bilateral relations," said Vladimir Putin after the meeting with the North Korean leader. Kim Jong-un, in turn, expressed the hope that his dialogue with Putin, which had begun in a constructive manner, would continue in the same spirit.
Until April 2018, Kim had not only never left his country, but had not met with any other foreign head of state. Negotiations with Xi Jinping in Beijing were the first summit-level dialogue of his life. In Russia, the DPRK leader was met at the border station Hassan, and then in Vladivostok - just like his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, in 1948, and his father, Kim Jong Il in 2001. The visit of the third North Korean leader to the Russian Federation will last until Friday.
"North Korea seeks to show the world that Russia is becoming its serious partner. Moscow has nothing against such a position. It is equally important for the Russian side to demonstrate that we remain in the global game that has been going on around the Korean Peninsula for more than half a century. Therefore, Putin’s meeting with Kim was mostly declarative - there simply could be no serious decisions at the first stage of the dialogue.
On the other hand, Moscow is not hiding its economic interests in rapprochement with Pyongyang. It has been stated more than once that the Russian Federation is interested in building a gas pipeline that will run from Russia through the North to the South of Korea. Of no less interest is the project of connecting the Korean railways with the Russian railways for organizing large freight shipments from South Korea to Europe. In both cases, North Korea appears rather as a transit country, but these initiatives will benefit everyone.
You can assess these initiatives as a look into the future in the long term. In the near future these projects will hardly be able to be realized - two factors interfere. First of all, North Korea needs to become an open market economy in order to be able to fully work with it without the existing risks. Secondly, Pyongyang still needs to solve the country's security problems, and taking into account the positions of the West, this is unlikely to happen soon, "concludes Vasily Mikheev.