National Commentaries

“The Impact of the Camp David Trilateral”

A Perspective from China and Russia


Three commentaries matter most in the aftermath of August’s Camp David trilateral summit of the United States, Japan, and South Korea. What the three participants say, of course, serves as evidence of how significant and sustainable the promised, annual three-way meeting would be. (In addition to the commentaries here, the new “Country Report: South Korea” offers coverage.)
Also of critical importance is how China and Russia respond, given their dire warnings ahead of the summit and long before that event. Was this a turning point for them as well? Looking back at their thinking in recent years and their warnings leading up to the summit, we can grasp the significance of the summit to them, even as we await decisions on how they choose to respond.

The tone of Chinese and Russian statements and writings on Japan and, especially, South Korea, has grown more ominous in the 2020s. The “honeymoon” atmospheres between Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye in 2013-14 and between Vladimir Putin and Abe Shinzo in 2013-2016 are distant memories. Warnings have abounded, especially growing in intensity since 2021. Demonization of the United States in both Moscow and Beijing is accompanied by threats against its two allies. While Tokyo is not spared, the bulk of the threats focus on Seoul—often treated as more vulnerable.

Chinese have warned Seoul repeatedly of negative consequences from tilting to Washington and joining with Tokyo in security, precisely what occurred in spades at Camp David. In 2021, they criticized Moon Jae-in for tilting; in 2022, they charged that Yoon Suk-yeol had gone much further toward Washington; in the first half of 2023, they upped their attacks on Yoon, adding his Japan policy to the criticism. But what occurred on August 18 at Camp David crossed far more red lines. Now, how will China react? In this commentary, I consider five options for how it responds.

Russians have criticized Seoul no less vehemently than Chinese, more overtly displaying their partiality for Pyongyang and labeling South Korea, along with Japan, an “unfriendly country.” Prior to the upsurge in diplomacy with North Korea in 2018-19, Moscow was tilting more than Beijing to Pyongyang, and in 2022, its threats aimed at Seoul were less restrained. Taking a more negative posture against Tokyo since the retirement of Abe Shinzo, Moscow appears more inclined to react vigorously to the Camp David trilateral. Below, I also consider its options as well. For each option, I ask if Beijing and Moscow are in sync, or they are likely to disagree on what to do.

“The Camp David Trilateral”

President Joe Biden called the summit “historic,” culminating a series of bilateral meetings with President Yoon Suk-yeol and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio as well as serving as the fourth time in a year and a half the three had met together and the first stand-alone trilateral summit.1 He pronounced the formation of this group a “big deal,” insisted that it would have a “phenomenal impact” not just in Asia, and promised further expansion of what is multi-layered cooperation at all levels through annual summits and separate annual gatherings of the triad’s top security and economic officials. The venue matters too, symbolic of prior breakthroughs in US-led diplomacy.

Given the growing threat from North Korea, the impact of the Ukraine war as a gamechanger, and China’s aggressive behavior in the East and South China seas, a trilateral response seemed inevitable with suitable US leadership. Momentum generated by agreement on Indo-Pacific economic strategy in 2022 also built toward trilateralism, along with new awareness of the need for supply chain resilience since the 2020 COVID pandemic and new attention to cutting edge technologies spurred by US policies in 2022, including semi-conductor coordination. Thus, the three-way summit represented an obvious response to a transformed Asian environment.

Key phrases in the “Camp David trilateral” include: “facing an international order in crisis”; “boosting trilateral defense cooperation”; “building joint response capacity to the North Korean threat”; recognizing that “a threat to any member is a threat to the US, Japan, and South Korea as a whole”; “maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”; “establishing a supply chain early warning system”; pledging that “our shared values will be our guide and a free and open Indo-Pacific…will be our collective purpose,” and cultivating  what is labeled the “Camp David spirit.”

Chinese and Russian Thinking prior to Camp David

Already joining forces at the Six-Party Talks, Beijing and Moscow made clear that their objective was less denuclearization of North Korea than a regional architecture in Northeast Asia at odds with US alliances. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin in their frequent meetings, especially in warning about THAAD deployment and in response to the diplomacy of 2018-19, insisted that talks lead to a weakening of pressure on North Korea and of the US alliances divisive for the region. Their message to Tokyo was that its tightening alliance with the US came at the expense of reduced tensions with them and to Seoul that it had to pay a price for tilting closer to Washington. At the end of 2017, Xi exacted from Moon Jae-in the promise of “three noes” directed at keeping security ties with both Washington and Tokyo from expanding, for instance, in missile defense. Neither China nor Russia is a status quo power or willing to accommodate US alliances in Asia.

Reviewing Xi Jinping’s strategic thinking toward Northeast Asia in 2013-16, I saw him cleaving the region in two, notably in his demands on South Korea. (See The Asan Forum, July 2023). Reviewing Vladimir Putin’s strategic thinking toward Japan in the 2010s, James D.J. Brown perceived a growing rejection of its alliance ties to the United States (See Putin’s “Turn to the East” in the Xi Jinping Era). Blaming the lack of independence of both Seoul and Tokyo, Chinese and Russian authors have repeatedly warned of the serious consequences bound to follow.*

Chinese rhetoric has grown harsher in 2023. In March media criticized South Korea’s efforts at rapprochement with Japan. On April 20, the government responded harshly when Yoon characterized a possible cross–Taiwan Strait conflict as an international security issue, even launching a formal diplomatic protest. Ambassador Xing Haiming then said, “those who bet on China’s loss will surely regret their decision in the future,”—a statement at a meeting with the opposition leader, which sparked a firestorm in South Korea, where it was regarded as a threat to punish Seoul for strengthening its alignment with Washington.2

Keywords in Chinese and Russian writings concerning Northeast Asian regional security include: “seeking one’s own security at the expense of the security interests of others and of regional peace and stability”; “creating contradictions and increasing tensions”; “undermining the peace of the region”; “forming exclusive groups and cliques resulting in bloc confrontation”; forging a “mini-NATO”; standing in the way of “true multilateralism”; and exuding “Cold War mentality.”

For many years Chinese and Russians have been warning Seoul and Tokyo of dire consequences if they cross various red lines. The lines are often not specified exactly, and the consequences may be left vague, but the warnings centered on security concerns intensified. In 2021, they rose to a loud crescendo as Biden drew these US allies closer; in 2022, they spiked much further in the spillover from the Ukraine war and new tensions over Taiwan; and in 2023, they were again on the rise before the Camp David trilateral. Yet, both Beijing and Moscow differentiated Seoul from Tokyo, suggesting that it could still stay short of the line of probable retaliation. The August 18 summit may be taken as the point of no return. The question left is: will retaliation proceed in a softer or harder form, and as it proceeds, will Beijing and Moscow coordinate closely or not?

The “Camp David Trilateral” has crossed the threshold that Chinese and Russians had indicated for triggering consequences. Are Beijing and Moscow agreed on how to respond? In 2010, there was considerable overlap in responding to Seoul’s reactions to the sinking of the Cheonan by North Korea. In 2016-17, they reacted similarly to the deployment of THAAD, although China took tough informal sanctions and Russia focused more on tilting toward North Korea. What should we expect ahead, given Moscow’s war in Ukraine and Beijing’s economic troubles? Let us consider five alternatives for how they may react, comparing the two countries in this way.

Response 1. Focus on domestic divisions within South Korea and Japan

During the Cold War, Chinese and Soviets played up class struggle as a force for change in both Japan and South Korea. Without the class theme, this approach continues, especially for South Korea, where the return of progressive leadership is foreseen not so much to damage ties to the US as to rekindle the flames of anti-Japanese thinking. Lingering pacifist opinion in Japan is also mentioned at times as possibly putting a break on policy. A victory by Donald Trump could be disruptive of trilateral ties as well. With neither Yoon nor Kishida popular at home, a wait-and-see attitude could be adopted, avoiding a confrontational response. Beijing has reason to take this approach since its economic troubles make it eager to reinvigorate economic ties.

This wait-and-see outlook, coupled with warnings that might impact public opinion, prevailed in 2021-2022 (even in Russia toward Seoul after the start of the Ukraine War), but it was fading even before the Camp David summit. With Japanese attitudes solidified and Yoon’s term set to last to 2027, Chinese and Russians are unlikely to take any comfort from standing by any longer.

Response 2. Exert economic pressure as occurred after the THAAD deployment decision

Chinese often refer to South Korean economic dependence on China and the beneficial trade surplus that annually favors Seoul. They positively cite the precedent of responding to THAAD as teaching Seoul a lesson and warn that certain behavior by Seoul could induce new reactions. The problem, however, is that China’s own economic troubles and South Korea’s inclinations to reduce the risks in its exposure to Chinese retaliation mitigate against such one-sided pressure. Russia also threatens action against South Korea, but that is mostly limited to confiscation of properties inside Russia for “unfriendly” actions connected to the war in Ukraine. China would be able to cause considerable pain in Japan through economic sanctions, but the price for its own economy again makes that option unlikely given the existing atmosphere. Still, “de-risking” by Japan and South Korea is likely to lead to further Chinese “de-risking” as economic security takes center stage not only in Sino-US relations but also in US allies’ relations with China.

Moscow’s threats to nationalize South Korean assets in Russia are real. They concentrate on the support Seoul may give to the Ukraine war effort. The August trilateral includes coordination on Ukraine, making Russian retaliation more likely. Beijing’s impact could be far greater. It might be kept in reserve in case of a Taiwan scenario, in which South Korea becomes involved, leading China to cast economic logic aside. Incremental steps may be all that follow after Camp David.

Response 3. Apply military pressure as a warning to both South Korea and Japan

Simultaneous with the Camp David summit, China and Russia conducted joint sea and air drills close to both Japan and South Korea. China is putting increasing military pressure on Taiwan, as it also raises the stakes in the waters around the Senkaku (Diaoyu) islands and in South Korea’s economic exclusive zone. Russia had built up forces on the islands disputed with Japan and flown more frequently in an ominous manner, forcing Japan to scramble its jets in response. Yet, mobilization to fight in Ukraine lessens Russian capacity in East Asia. Even if China and Russia step up harassment measures, they are unlikely to impact the behavior of US allies.

The price of seizing the Senkakus or flagrantly violating South Korean sovereignty would be too great to consider them serious options. Chinese and Russian militaries are focused elsewhere.  

Response 4. Boost ties to North Korea in a manner that makes it more threatening      

Arguing that the “Mini-NATO” is forcing other regional countries to take more assertive actions, Chinese and Russians warn that it is Seoul and Tokyo that will fall into a geopolitical crisis. Given Russia’s greater hostility to the United States and recent intensification of security ties to North Korea, it would be more likely to take the path of supporting North Korean provocations. North Korea welcomes Russian belligerence and could follow its example with its own belligerence.

China may be in the driver’s seat, given its economic leverage over the North. According to its Global Security Initiative, it is committed to the “legitimate security concerns of all countries.” Having used that phrase to legitimate North Korea’s refusal to engage in diplomacy sought by others and Russia’s war in Ukraine, China may repeat it even after North Korea resorts to new provocations. The GSI suggests that China seeks to challenge the existing US-led security order in the Asia-Pacific and to promote its own vision of international security. North Korea could further this. The GSI opposes the “imposition of values on others,” criticizes the US “Cold-War” mentality and warns that “history has proven that bloc politics, division, and confrontation have never delivered genuine security. They can only escalate tensions and destabilise the region.”3

Response 5. Split over how to respond in light of a growing Sino-Russian split in Central Asia

As management of Sino-Russian relations in Central Asia grows more difficult and the two struggle to coordinate at the SCO, will there be spillover to their approach to the Korean Peninsula and US-ROK-Japan trilateralism? China is now squeezing Russia in unprecedented ways in Central Asia. As Zhu Jiejin and He Yue write, Russia’s declining veto power means it is less able to prevent China from pursuing its own plans in Central Asia. Deng Hao explains that Russia’s influence over the SCO’s agenda and its members has weakened further in the wake of Russia’s war with Ukraine. While Russia imagined that the SCO could become an anti-Western organization, its members refuse. More reliant on the SCO but less able to shape it, Russia must defer to China’s “Shanghai Spirit.” (See “Country Report: China,” The Asan Forum, August 2023).

A weakened Russia is subdued about challenging an emboldened China. Having largely deferred to Beijing on North Korea diplomatic questions for two decades, Moscow would risk a backlash by, on its own, giving the green light to Pyongyang to launch some aggressive action. Yet, quiet approval may also come from the Chinese. What may appear to be a split may not be so. North Korea is not a prime candidate to do another country’s bidding, but its own decision to rock the boat could be eased, as it was in 1950, by secret approval from Moscow and, at a minimum, the acquiescence of Beijing. Given the line-up of three vs. three, solidified on one side after failed diplomacy in 2019 and on the other—in full force–at Camp David, North Korea is the most likely force to activate a “New Cold War” with hot war behavior, as happened in the past Cold War.


Chinese Warnings

As Biden took office, Cheng Xiaohe pointedly observed that, “Whether Washington and Beijing cooperate under the Biden administration depends heavily on whether they reach an understanding on how to approach the DPRK. This was a touchstone for prospects of cooperation under George W. Bush and Barack Obama as well as during the first year of the Trump administration.” Cooperation on North Korea, Cheng notes, served as a backstop of diplomacy, which faded in 2018-20 and had little chance of reviving given sharper divergence in approaches. By that, Cheng appears to mean, China’s newfound insistence that the US engage the North by consulting with China and accepting a regional security framework rather than insisting on denuclearization as an early goal. Xi Jinping in his “Four Firm Supports” has articulated strong support for Kim Jong-un, calling for a political solution to the nuclear issue and a lasting peace and security framework for the peninsula. Despite the disruption from COVID-19 to the momentum in bilateral ties, China’s support is firm, and, together with Russia, it calls for sanctions’ relief. Cheng concludes, “Both China and the United States are now more likely to perceive Korean issues from the perspective of Sino-US strategic rivalry, the United States will become increasingly vigilant about lifting sanctions against North Korea, whereas China will become increasingly reluctant to further punish North Korea.” Since the US position on North Korea had not changed, the message here leaves no doubt that China has changed, normalizing ties and focusing blame on the US.

Cheng argued that Sino–DPRK relations are more normalized than before and improved Sino–ROK relations depend on how Moon engages the North and resists US efforts to pressure the North or contain China. Despite the severe breakdown in Sino–South Korean ties provoked by the ROK–US agreement to deploy THAAD, China and South Korea found a way to go forward despite China keeping some sanctions and repeatedly suggesting more may follow. Tests awaited over both “docking” economic strategies and keeping a balance in security ties to China and the US.4

The Concept Paper on the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and PRC Position on a Political Solution to the Ukraine Crisis—in early 2023 pointed to a more assertive response to the Biden agenda. The documents blame “Cold War mentality” for US measures, insisting that without intervention from afar the natural order in the region would proceed.5 Sanctions and supply chain security are identified as distorting free economic exchange, and the US stands accused of demonizing China, not the other way around. The US is incorrigible, Japan is nearly as bad, and South Korea was leaning dangerously toward their camp is the prevailing message from China.

In 2023, I wrote, “Chinese analysis of Biden’s Indo-Pacific policy reveals thinking about China’s own strategy. Biden is accused of interfering with the “integration” and “unification” of the region and China’s pursuit of a “common destiny.” It is fragmenting the region, stirring up anxiety about a “China threat.” Chinese perceptions of Biden’s “comprehensive strategy” embodied in the Indo-Pacific concept are zero-sum, more than Japan’s prior advocacy of the FOIP. Now the strategy covers security, economics, technology, and ideological stressing shared values of “freedom” and “openness.” The core is maritime security, next is the values framework, third is economic and technological competition, and fourth is a network of multilateral mechanisms. Views of the Biden foreign policy in Asia serve as the foundation for thinking about Japanese and ROK foreign policy.6
Justifying the Russian full-scale war in Europe as a result of US policies with parallels in Asia and blocking new UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea on the pretext that Pyongyang is driven to missile tests by Washington’s hostile policy, China in the first part of the 2020s took unprecedented steps in support of polarization in Northeast Asia. Castigating Joe Biden for the new “Cold War” atmosphere, Xi Jinping rejected US efforts to establish guardrails to manage competition without veering toward confrontation. Having lost hope in driving a wedge between the US and its allies in Japan and South Korea, China upped the pressure on the two, further reflecting its shift toward polarization despite economic urgency belying that path. China finally faced a full-blown alignment against its strategy. Cutting a deal with the United States—high on the agenda in 2013 and 2017—was now out of the question. Driving a wedge between the US and its allies no longer seemed feasible. China doubled down on its closest partnerships, and after increasingly warning Seoul, in August it seemingly lost further hope.

Meng Xiaoru assesses Japan’s December 2022 adoption of three new security documents (the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and Defense Buildup Program), arguing that Japan’s decision to adopt a more offensive posture destabilizes regional security and Sino–Japanese relations. He notes the new concept of economic security and the assertion that China’s current foreign policy and behavior “present an unprecedented and the greatest strategic challenge in ensuring the peace and security of Japan and the peace and security of the international community.” Meng warns that the more aggressive Japanese military posture will damage regional security as its enhanced capabilities will strengthen the capabilities of the US–Japan alliance, which would otherwise be diminished by US decline, and will boost US confidence to continue to engage in great power competition with China. Meng also argues that the three security documents increase the risk that Japan will use force in a regional dispute, for example, to defend Taiwan or attack North Korea. At the same time, Meng pessimistically predicts that Japan’s new posture will result in a regional arms race and damage regional economic integration. New security documents damage Sino–Japanese strategic mutual trust and demonstrate Japan’s collaboration with the United States, NATO, and other powers to contain China. Meng places responsibility for deteriorating regional stability on Japan’s “dangerous behavior” and its “pro-American Cold War mentality.”7

Yang Fan and Ling Shengli in early 2023 analyzed Yoon Suk-yeol’s shift on the US-ROK alliance, arguing its significance but suggesting that uncertainties and contradictions could limit it.8 Yoon is seen as abandoning Moon’s quest for autonomy and shrinking space to maneuver between great powers. This could damage ties to China and South Korea’s development as well as raise the prospects of conflict on the peninsula as well as an ideological confrontation. His closer ties to Japan and triangularity with the US defy historical realities. The reality is he cannot distance South Korea from China. The article takes a zero-sum view, assumes an irreversible Sino-US struggle, and warns Seoul of serious negative consequences from where Yoon is heading. Expanding the alliance to the Indo-Pacific and linking up with Tokyo as well as with NATO, Seoul is crossing a line, but the article is vague on how the negative impact would be manifested.

Wang Fudong in early 2023 wrote that Yoon Suk-yeol has changed thinking about China in South Korea, putting competitiveness above complementarity. The recent shift in thinking poses the biggest challenge to bilateral relations since normalization but given contradictions in Seoul there is still space to develop Sino-ROK ties. Tilting to the US and Japanizing foreign policy is criticized.9 Even after the 2016 THAAD dispute, the South Korean government remained cautious toward China, Wang says. It was Yoon who changed things fundamentally to view China as a strategic threat, following negative public opinion trends and arguing that China could copy Russia in Ukraine in aggression against South Korea. Influenced by Western thought fanning competition, South Koreans turned negative, including on human rights. Economic competition has replaced economic complementarity. The spillover from the Ukraine war has raised the priority of the West and its military technology, as the allure of China’s economic future has faded. Moon Jae-in in 2021 had already begun the shift by acting but saying little, but the big shift occurred in 2022 in word and deed. Seoul has joined Washington in containing China as part of the “Indo-Pacific strategy,” strategically. Unlike Moon, Yoon boosts trilateralism with Japan, getting involved with Taiwan and the South China Sea. Its language has acquired an ideological tinge, seeing China though this prism. Yet, arousing reactions in China, Russia, and North Korea, is one reason Yoon is losing popularity at home. Biden’s US first policies, Korean company plans in China, and the lingering impact of distrust of Japan all stand in the way of Yoon’s shift, as does China’s effort to boost ties. China should strive to alleviate concerns, while also taking countermeasures to steps aimed at containing it. There is room to stabilize relations.

Repeatedly, Chinese blamed Seoul for reneging on assurances, charged it with a psychological complex, or warned it not only of deteriorating relations but also of what China might do. Their main threat centered on tilting to the United States and warming ties to Japan, which would come at a cost to peace and stability in Northeast Asia. Not following China’s agenda for security would spell trouble, while joining the US agenda signified an even bigger provocation to the Chinese.

Russian Warnings

In July, Konstantin Asmolov and Liudmila Zakharova analyzed Russia’s relationships with the governments of Korea, asking how relations with the two would evolve as a cardinal shift in the world order is beginning.10 They argued that Seoul does not want to damage ties to Russia, an influential “neighbor of North Korea” with which it has considerable economic ties. Lotte, Hyundai, and Samsung all have large investment projects in Russia, the loss of which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. South Korea does not have economic or, even more, political interests, in Ukraine, and public opinion in the South sees the conflict as at the end of the map, not directly involving Koreans. The North was said not to have conducted another nuclear test because it would damage ties to China and Russia. Cooperation with North Korea has advanced slowly, however, due to first, its credit history and after 2014-15, its bad faith handling of barter. Also, the idea spread that priority should be given to international institutions, which observed sanctions closely, and that Russia’s reputation would be hurt. (Its reputation is so low now that no further decline would matter.) Russia did not violate the sanctions for which it voted; yet, China has had both periods of strict observance of sanctions (especially in 2017) and, recently, more pragmatic development of cross-border ties. At present, nothing positions the South in opposition based on values of “democratic Korea” and “authoritarian Russia.” Seoul did not want to be dragged into the anti-Russian sanctions of the West, officially staying out in 2014. In 2022, they had to demonstrate solidarity, and Moscow added South Korea to the “unfriendly” list. Yet, South Korean companies, unlike European and Japanese ones, did not rush to leave the Russian market. Seoul does what is minimally needed to be part of the “international community, not crossing “red lines.” Seoul hopes that Moscow understands its position of “we are for sanctions, but in fact we have done the minimum and are ready to cooperate.”

For Russia, this raises two problems: the very fact of joining the sanctions and the absence of a guarantee that the South will not impose new ones if the situation changes. Putin warned Seoul against supplying weapons and military supplies to Ukraine. Pressure from the US on the ROK on the “Ukraine question” is growing. Seoul has not yielded and seeks a way out. Yoon told Reuters that a situation could develop when Seoul would find it hard to stick to humanitarian aid and financial support. Moscow took this as readiness to change policies, which angered many politicians, including Medvedev. Given the absolute priority of US relations, more serious US pressure could get Yoon to yield. Russia and China may stop observing the UN sanctions. The rapidity of breakdown of the former world order increases the likelihood of methods previously considered unacceptable. The West may put Seoul in a dead-end situation, knowing the reaction of Moscow to arms supplies to Ukraine, even the variant of replacing the arms of other countries supplying Ukraine. Moscow is ready to respond at the cost of cooperation with Seoul.

If the overall level of confrontation between Russia and China with the “collective West” were to force countries not in a bloc to take sides, possible leading to use of nuclear weapons, this too would be impactful. Possible outcomes include loss of the Russian market to South Korean business and loss of space to maneuver for Seoul, as China’s “informal sanctions” increase. The non-proliferation regime could collapse. The longer the special military operation lasts, the less likely Russo-ROK relations will return to their earlier level. Domestic politics and the US could both pressure Yoon. The optimal scenario is no serious change in relations, minimal sanctions and sustained economic and cultural contacts. Seoul would be “the friendliest of unfriendly states.”

Yet, this is improbable. It is an illusion to expect more independence from Seoul. Thus, the likely outcomes involve a practically full split with Seoul, along with closer Russian ties to the DPRK. If Seoul initiates the split by crossing a “red line” we presume an active search for South Korean “agents” in Russia and nationalization of South Korean assets. Another set of scenarios would be tied to actions by Pyongyang forcing Russia to react, e.g., a nuclear test or conflict turning into unplanned war. Moscow would have to choose. Alternatively, Moscow and Pyongyang could draw closer, leading to colder ties to Seoul as a result. This could follow the end of the operation in Ukraine and Russia’s need for the North’s help in its Far East or if the operation’s success required internationalization of the conflict or if cooperating with the North would serve as a demonstration effect in response to South Korean behavior.

South Korea’s ties to Russia are different from Japan’s, but that could change under US pressure or the deepening of myths such as Moscow was responsible for the division of the peninsula and the Korean War or that the resettlement of Koreans in Central Asia in 1937 was an act of genocide planned by Moscow to maintain good relations with Japan. Supplying arms to Ukraine (even if after a North Korean nuclear test to prove the reliability of weapons for its missiles) would be a bad sign, as would US nuclear weapons in South Korea (having a domino effect) or large-scale maneuvers with Japan. Russo-ROK relations in the near term will tend to worsen, but how fast depends on Seoul. Russo-DPRK relations will formally improve, but not to fully restored cooperation. The architecture of security on the Korean Peninsula probably will not be forged on already existing rules of the past world order, readers are told. North Korea is used to working with Russia on the principle “economic benefits in exchange for a geostrategic bonus.”

If observance of sanctions loses priority, Russia and the North can offer each other strategic assistance. In case of escalation of the situation, North Korean military personnel could study US and South Korean technology in Russia or North Korea could supply arms useful in the Donbas. If the ROK irreversibly worsens relation, crossing “red lines,” there is much Russia could do. So far no “red line” has been crossed, but Russia should make clear what would cross it.

1. “President Biden holds news conference with Japanese and South Korean leaders,” CBS News, August 18, 2023.

2. Scott Snyder, “What’s Causing the Rise in China-South Korea Tensions,” Council on Foreign Relations, June 30, 2023.

3. Ibid.

4. Cheng Xiaohe, “US-DPRK Relations and China’s Response in the Biden Era,” The Asan Forum, December 30, 2020.

5. John S. Van Oudenaren “The Global Security Initiative: China Outlines a New Security Architecture,” China Brief: The Jamestown Foundation, March 3, 2023.

6. Gilbert Rozman, “How the United States Gained Momentum over China in the Indo-Pacific,” Korea Policy, no. 2, 2023.

7. Meng Xiaoru, “日本国家安全保障战略调整评析, Guoji Wenti Yanjiu, No. 2, 2023.

8. Yang Fan and Ling Shengli, 尹锡悦政府的联盟政策与美韩联盟的走向,” Dangdai Hanguo, No. 1, 2023.

9. Wang Fudong, “韩国尹锡悦政府的对华认知与政策走向评述, Dangdai Hanguo, No. 1, 2023.

10. Konstantin Asmolov and Liudmila Zakharova, “Reshitel’nost’ i Akuratnost’: Otnosheniia Rossii i Gosudarstv Koreiskogo Poluostrova v Novuiu epokhu,” Rossiia v Global’noi Politike, July/August 2023. (This is taken from “Country Report: Russia,” The Asan Forum, July 2023.)

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