Russian Strategic Thinking Regarding North Korea


For Russia the DPRK is not a normal state. The two facts that it is one of Russia’s nearest neighbors and it was founded by the Soviet Union exert unquestionable influence on the current thinking about this country among Russia’s political elite. In this issue of the Asan Forum there is extended discussion in the Country Report: Russia of an August article by Evgenyi Bazhanov on Russia’s strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region. Reviewing how past strategy toward North Korea evolved, the article below emphasizes how strategic thinking in 2013 fits into current debates over Russia’s broader regional strategy.

The Soviet period

The DPRK was established by Stalin in 1948 within the scope of policies for extending the sphere of influence of “world socialism,” i.e., regimes subordinate to Moscow. While this victory of “socialism” was less notable than that in China, in that period it was all the same just the second “socialist” state in Asia. The idea of extending the authority of North Korea to South Korea was never abandoned by Stalin and those he put in power in Pyongyang, which was reflected in the eruption of the Korean War in 1950, which, as documents demonstrate, was begun with the direct approval of the Soviet leader.

Over a long time the Soviet Union strongly supported the Pyongyang regime, which was close to it. The alliance status was strengthened with the conclusion in 1961 of the Soviet-North Korean treaty of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance, in which the two sides were bound by mutual obligations not to participate in coalitions, actions, or measures directed against the other, to consult on all important international questions touching on their interests, and, in case of need, to provide the other side without delay military and other assistance with all means at their disposal. Yet, some problems arose after the start of the Sino-Soviet split, when Pyongyang, not firmly supporting Moscow, began to maneuver between the two. Dissatisfaction with the Soviet Union led to a purge of the “pro-Soviet” faction in the DPRK leadership, with which Moscow decided not to quarrel, lest Pyongyang fully go over to Beijing’s side. Moscow kept extending substantial assistance while receiving practically nothing materially in return, but strategically it had an ally in the global confrontation with the United States, which it strove to keep from drawing too close to Beijing.

After the death of Leonid Brezhnev, in the midst of a deepening economic crisis, Soviet policies turned more pragmatic. Many specialists—researchers and employees in economic organs—tried to turn the attention of the leadership to South Korea, as a very promising economic partner. They argued that Japan had moved far ahead of the USSR, but its businessmen, as seen then in their caution to the PRC, were very cautious about investing in unstable communist states. In contrast, South Korea not only was not so far ahead in economic development, moreover for political reasons, it might be ready to offer Moscow certain economic benefits.

At that time the situation in the “Far East” did not improve, and in relations between the USSR and South Korea there remained, it seemed, an insurmountable obstacle, much more significant than the territorial problem with Japan. The North Korean regime would react vehemently to any Soviet gestures toward Seoul. Besides, when a Soviet military plane shot down a Korean civilian airliner the gap widened further with Seoul. Yet, when Mikhail Gorbachev transformed the geopolitics of the world, abandoning ideological conceptions and looking for economic partners, his acceptance of full independence for the states of Eastern Europe opened the way for them to establish relations with South Korea after rejecting communist ideology, which had earlier bound them to the North. As Gorbachev also deideologized foreign policy, the logic of developing relations with Seoul was that the USSR had too many internal problems to permit staying very active abroad and to pour resources into the troubled economies of ideologically close regimes. Foreign policy now had to create favorable conditions for reform and raising the living standards of the people. It followed that Seoul came to be seen as a more beneficial partner than Pyongyang, which symbolized all that Gorbachev wanted to escape in his utopian desire to establish humanistic and effective socialism distinct from the Stalin model, which had been borrowed by the “great leader” Kim Il-song. There is a basis to assume also that the political system of South Korea, combining strong authority with effective state controls over the economy was seen in the Kremlin as an example from which it could learn.

The 1990s-2000s

The main reason for growing interest in the late 1980s undoubtedly was South Korea’s economic prosperity. Local governments and businessmen, who were given more autonomy by Moscow to trade in natural resources in order to acquire consumer goods, led the way, as pressure from the elite in Siberia and the Russian Far East on Moscow prepared the soil for normalization. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the new leadership turned foreign policy on its head, ending assistance to Pyongyang for ideological reasons, above all, and insisted on economic cooperation on a purely commercial basis, leading to a serious economic crisis in the North, as it developed economic ties with the South. Yet, as dissatisfaction grew with the policies of the West, Moscow shifted to a more balanced approach, weighing non-economic factors more after its interest in Asia had declined due to the pro-Western ideological and political orientation of Yeltsin’s Kremlin. In the late 1990s and especially after Vladimir Putin came to power, attention to Asia grew. On May 15, 2000, Putin declared, “Historically and geopolitically, the Korean peninsula always has been included in the sphere of Russia’s national interests.”1 In his book published that year, Foreign Minister I. S. Ivanov wrote, “In its policies toward the Korean peninsula, Russia starts from the need to support good-neighbor and partner relations with both Korean states.” 2 These remarks reflected a more active foreign policy with both sides with aspirations for stimulating inter-Korean dialogue.

On February 9, 2000, Moscow and Pyongyang signed the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Good Neighborly Relations, which, according to Ivanov, “drew a line under the decade of coolness in the relations between the two countries.”3 In July during one of his first trips abroad as president, Putin paid a state visit to Pyongyang. This was the first visit of Moscow’s highest leader to the capital of the DPRK in the history of that country. A joint declaration consolidating the new level of relationship was signed. In August 2001 Kim Jong-il paid a bizarre almost one month long train visit to Russia. The 2000 treaty replaced that of 1961, signifying a qualitatively new stage of relations, which Russians saw as devoid of ideology and considered to be the formal end of the alliance since there was no longer in the treaty a requirement of mutual defense. Since 2000 the two sides signed more than 40 official agreements, including in 2007 an agreement on labor from one side temporarily working on the territory of the other, and a 2012 treaty on customs and the border regime. In meetings on the highest level in 2000-02 leaders built a solid legal foundation for deepening cooperation, which the Russian side has used in developing relations. As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs report indicated in 2007, they preserved the potential for good-neighborly relations, although Russia’s opposition to the nuclear test of 2006 and support for Security Council resolutions elicited a critical response.4

The Russo-DPRK relationship is not about trade, since the level has hovered at USD 100-150 million a year, a pittance compared to trade figures with South Korea. In 2012 Russia wrote off much of the North Korean debt, which was one barrier to closer economic ties.5 Russian hopes for economic cooperation center on widely advertised triangular projects: construction of a gas pipeline through the DPRK to South Korea, joining the Trans-Siberian railroad to trans-Korean lines, and construction of electric transmission lines all the way to South Korea. These themes drew further support when Kim Jong-il visited Russia in August 2011, but they are seen less as commercial plans than as political means to improve the situation, stimulating an increase in trust on the peninsula.6

Experts and Politicians on North Korea

Today in Russian society and the political elite there are different, even contradictory, views of the DPRK. The most positive, naturally, are found in the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and circles close to it, who continue to see the world as an arena for a struggle between capitalism and world “socialism.” This party supports inter-party relations with the ruling party in the DPRK (the Workers’ Party of Korea). Despite all of the differences among them, communist parties in the PRC, the DPRK, and Vietnam give Russian communists some degree of hope about the movement’s reincarnation on a world scale. In holding these views they prefer to close their eyes to the repressive character of the North Korean regime and its economic problems, as if the situation is normal. Typical are remarks by party secretary Kazbek Taisaev in an interview summing up the results of the visit of a party delegation at the invitation of the Workers’ Party of Korea, on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the “victory of the Korean nation in the Fatherland Liberation War.” “This wonderful country, he declared, is not at all like what Western propaganda tries to describe in its mass media. It is a country of great possibilities, general wellbeing, dynamically developing its economy.” On Russian relations with it, he said, “Long ago it was time to change the vector of these relations. It is necessary to draw the countries closer, indeed in Asia the DPRK can become our most important strategic partner.”7

Similar opinions, but without the stress on the socialist essence of the Pyongyang authorities are propounded by supporters of great power nationalism, who see world politics as an unending battle from the period of the Cold War with the West opposed by all anti-Western forces. Since Russia cannot by itself compete, they call for all enemies of the West to unite, treating North Korea as one of the most important Asian links in this scheme. Its acquisition of nuclear weapons is seen as corresponding to the interests of Russia as an important weapon in the battle with a common enemy. Characteristic of this are the remarks of the former director of the main directorate of international military cooperation in the Ministry of Defense and now the president of the independent Academy of Geopolitical Science, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov. “The Korean Peninsula is the forward area in which the global interests of two geopolitical systems confront each other: the West and, above all, the United States, and Japan, participating in this Western coalition, and a different geopolitical model of the world…Moreover, with the collapse of the USSR there were attempts to destroy North Korea as a socialist state… And now the DPRK is a space power, a rocket power…and today’s Korea demonstrates development that is not inferior to us—today’s Russians.”8 Evaluating the situation in the DPRK and its politics, Ivashov affirms, “North Korea is spared from the vices that exist in South Korea and with us… They have kept their pride, not going on their knees before anyone…”9

Representatives of liberal parties and groups hold opposing views. They see the West as the center of the “civilized world,” with which Russia, as other countries, should, as fast as possible, unite, advancing world progress. From this point of view, the “totalitarian” and radically anti-Western Pyongyang regime not only interferes with Russia, it also stands in the way of world progress generally. Adherents of this direction call on Russian authorities to stop all cooperation with Pyongyang and take a more decisive position in condemning it, supporting the USA, Japan, and the more conservative forces in South Korea. They would welcome without qualification the regime’s collapse and unification of the country under the aegis of Seoul. One leader of the pro-Western opposition Boris Nemtsov describes North Korea as a closed country in which people are shot for communicating with foreigners, and citizens by the millions die of hunger. In his opinion, Russia has no interests in the DPRK.10 In February 2013, reacting to the new nuclear test, the regional division of IaBLOKO in Amur oblast’ declared, “Cooperation of representatives of central and regional authority in Russia with the DPRK regime is dangerous not only because, to a great degree, thanks to Russian economic assistance, the families of the North Korean dictators acquired an instrument of nuclear blackmail, but also because Russia unwittingly becomes an abettor of the state that is destroying its own nation.” The party called for “reconsidering policies toward the DPRK. The realization of all the economic projects without exception can be continued only after the full and uncompromising rejection by the North Korean region of the nuclear program and the liberation of political prisoners.”11

An array of experts on non-proliferation consider North Korean nuclear weapon a serious threat to Russia.12 Similar disagreements exist among Russian experts on Korea. Few of them adhere to an openly pro-communist orientation, however, the support by some of them for the position of Pyongyang is based on both a traditional view of the world and on analysis of the actual behavior of the various sides. Russian experts can be divided into three schools. The first fully considers the actions of the DPRK logical, and looks at them as a justified reaction to the policies of the USA. These experts usually describe the situation in the DPRK positively, affirming that beginning with Kim Jong-il the country was taking the path of reform, close to China’s, the standard of living of the population is increasing, and the economy is becoming livelier.13 In this group one can include the head of the department of Korea and Japan at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Aleksandr Vorontsov, and the director of the Center for Korean Studies at the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Aleksandr Zhebin. Noting that the basis of the conflict on the Korean peninsula is the absence of normal relations between Pyongyang and Washington, Vorontsov sees the main cause of this to be US policies, “Pyongyang variously proposed to end this striking anachronism of the Cold War, but in vain: Washington firmly rejects both normalizing inter-state relations and replacing the Armistice with a fundamental document, which established a solid peace on the peninsula… Its plan is not peaceful coexistence with the DPRK, but the liquidation of this state. Precisely this accounts for the existence of permanent conflict on the Korean peninsula…”14

Another group of experts takes an intermediate position, laying blame for the permanent crisis on the peninsula on the DPRK and also on its opponents. One hears the opinion that the DPRK and its regressive state are showing durability and are hardly likely in the near future to disappear from the map of the world; therefore Russia needs to have normal relations with them as with its other neighbors. This underscores the necessity of peaceful resolution of the conflicts through negotiations with the participation of the DPRK, and on the whole in relations with Pyongyang, they recommend cooperation, gradually luring it into international cooperation, welcoming the South Korean Sunshine policy. In support of this approach one finds, for example, the former ambassador to the DPRK and the principal researcher of the Center for East Asian and Shanghai Cooperation Organization Studies of MGIMO Valerii Denisov and the director for Koreaan programs at the Institute of Economy in the Russian Academy of Sciences Georgii Toloraia. Thus, assessing the level of threat caused by Korean nuclear weapons, Toloraia says, “It is clear that this is an extremely negative example for the non-proliferation regime, which attempts to prevent the ‘spread’ of nuclear weapons, but that has already occurred. Therefore, now it is important, it seems to me, to find the best way out of this situation, to reduce the tension on the Korean peninsula, to reduce the danger of a military conflict, which, in the end, could lead to the use of nuclear weapons.”15

A third group of experts takes a stridently anti-North Korean position, blaming its regime for “trading in threats,” i.e. intentionally fomenting tension in order to obtain economic assistance from the West and South Korea. Explaining the vitriolic remarks of Pyongyang in April 2013, deputy director of IMEMO of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vasilii Mikheev said, “First, this is a continuation of an old tactic of causing a situation and trying to extract more money from the USA and South Korea in order then to return to the normal track. Second, the population has nothing to eat, and this requires some kind of explanation. But war is an easy explanation: ‘What do you want, we are at war.’ Against this background an inter-clan battle is raging, since Kim Jong-un is weaker than Kim Jong-il.” According to Mikheev’s evaluation, the North Korean regime “is generally overburdened. Many in this country now recall the end of the Soviet regime with the example of Gorbachev.”16

Nuclear Weapons

Support for the international regime against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is repeatedly affirmed as an official goal of Russian foreign policy. At the same time, Moscow’s reaction to one or another country acquiring or testing nuclear weapons depends greatly on relations with it and rarely is severe. For instance, taking into account the international situation and its own relations with India and Pakistan, Russia did not impose or propose any sanctions, just formally condemning the nuclear tests in those countries in 1998. Since that time, Russia only in a soft manner has recommended that the two states reject nuclear weapons. The understanding is spreading that new more active international actions are needed to prevent proliferation. Russia’s inclusion in international sanctions toward Iran and the DPRK, despite its tendency to weaken them, is the strongest reaction in its history to the fact of proliferation or its possibility. This is connected to three factors. First, as it officially declared, Russia as one of the most influential members of the nuclear club and a major world power bears special responsibility for maintaining world security and not tolerating efforts to undermine it through the proliferation of WMD. Second, Moscow well understands that countries that are acquiring or could acquire these weapons, above all Iran and the DPRK, are its neighbors, and their entry into the nuclear club creates a direct threat to the territory of Russia. Third, in connection with reductions in the fighting capacity of its conventional forces, nuclear weapons have become ever more important for Russia as a means of containment. Moreover, in conditions of reduced economic and political influence in comparison to Soviet times, nuclear parity with the United States remains the only attribute of a superpower, putting Moscow on a par with Washington. The spread of nuclear weapons significantly devalues Russia’s role and influence in the world.

Moscow continues quite actively joining in the political process to resolve the nuclear crisis on the peninsula, condemning the DPRK’s rocket and nuclear ambitions, supporting international efforts in the United Nations on this question, as when North Korea in July 2006 launched rockets and in October of that year conducted a nuclear test. It took a direct hand in preparing Security Council resolutions 1695 and 1718, which applied sanctions and contained calls for Pyongyang to stop these programs, and also resolution 1874 (2009) and 2094 (March 2013) in which these sanctions were made harsher. In the negotiations on the conditions of sanctions, Russia, as China, usually tried to soften the sanction regime. This is linked to two factors. First, in the Russian leadership there is real fear that the sanctions will lead to an uncontrollable breakdown of the North Korean regime. In that case, Russia, as a neighboring state will face a whole range of problems, from the possibility of a nuclear threat caused by North Korean nuclear weapons falling into the hands of uncontrolled groups to a massive flood of refugees onto its territory. To these problems one can add that military actions on an even larger scale could occur on the peninsula. Second, within the ruling elite there still exists strong emotions from the time of the Cold War, in accord with which the DPRK is, whether irresponsible or not, a partner in confronting attempts by the USA and its allies to dominate Asia. From this point of view, its complete disappearance from the map of the world is seen as harmful.

The actual course of Moscow is intermediate between these groups. It supports international forces to restrain the nuclear program of the DPRK, but takes a comparatively soft position. This ambivalence is clearly expressed in the commentary of the official representative of the Foreign Ministry A.K. Lukashevich on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, given on April 4, 2013 in connection with the official decisions of the Pyongyang leadership on strengthening the nuclear status of the country. Russia “as a permanent member of the Security Council of the UN, a state signer of the treaty against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, is categorically unreceptive to such disregard by Pyongyang of the decisions of the Security Council of the UN, which were based on the regimes in the sphere against the proliferation of WMD.” At the same time, in words directed to all interested sides, he expressed confidence that “the way to a healthy situation in Northeast Asia does not lie in escalation of military rhetoric and actual military activity, but through a joint search for a way for keeping the situation within the political-diplomatic area.”17

Korea and Russian Approaches to East Asia

According to the reasons given above, Russia actively participates in order that conflicts on the Korean Peninsula are resolved through negotiations. Not standing in opposition to direct negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington in case they lead to normalization, it prefers a multilateral process, since that assumes the active role of Moscow. Russia pays special attention to six-party negotiations on the nuclear problem of the DPRK, the significance of which must be seen in the context of the general approach of Moscow to problems of security in the Asia-Pacific region. Speaking at the plenary session of the sixth EAS on November 19, 2001, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov declared, “The strategic aims of Russia in East Asia consist of helping to bring peace, stability, and prosperity, to strengthen mutual trust, to work together for sustained economic development. Realization of this positive agenda, in its turn, is recognized as enabling the integration of Russia in the regional architecture of security and cooperation, the resolution of problems of the modernization of the Russian economy and the rise of Siberia and the Far East.”18

In this way, for Russia, the maintenance of security and stability in East Asia is not only a purely foreign policy goal, it is directly connected with the resolution of an internal strategic question—the development of its Far Eastern regions. Russians express concern that in this region contradictions are intensifying between traditional and newly rising players, but there is lacking an all-encompassing system of security, as exists in Europe.

A year later at the seventh EAS Lavrov introduced the idea of a multilateral dialogue on questions of the formation in the Asia-Pacific region of a sustained, reliable architecture of security and cooperation, the result of which would be worked out a range of framing principles for the conduct of inter-state relations.19 According to the explanations of Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, in planning a corresponding document Russia would rely on “existing international and regional instruments in the sphere of security, utilizing widely recognized international norms, and also the principled positions of the treaty of friendship and cooperation in Southeast Asia of 1976 and the declaration of 6th EAS on the principles of mutually beneficial relations. In the text are incorporated the main ideas of the joint Russo-Chinese initiative for strengthening security in the Asia-Pacific region, issued in 2010…We see a prospective outcome in a legally binding treaty on security in the «enlarged Asia-Pacific region.” 20

Thus, Russia aims not to create a new structure on security in the region, such as the OECD, but to work out some principles on the basis of the experience of the existing structures. Yet, none of these directly covers Northeast Asia. During the course of the Six-Party Talks Russia had big hopes for working out measures for security in Northeast Asia for the working group it headed on a mechanism for peace and security. It assumed that after resolving the Korean nuclear problem this group could turn into a continuously functioning mechanism in support of security in this region important for Russia. The interruption of these talks naturally buried these hopes. Russia insistently calls for the continuations of the Six-Party Talks, seeing in them not only a means for resolving a concrete problem, but for a wider perspective in support of security in Northeast Asia as part of the future structure of security in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole, in which it could play the leading role. Of course, Moscow would welcome any resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem, including direct negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington; however, the six-sided mechanism would be most desirable in all respects.

Opinions on the Prospects for Unification

It would be an exaggeration to say that the Russia leadership is seriously thinking about the prospects and consequences of the possible unification of Korea. As any other government, it is weighed down deciding about current problems. The official position is to support the establishment of one, democratic Korea, for which it considers that Koreans themselves must determine through which scenario unification will proceed and how it will occur. Perhaps, the clearest expression of this position came from ambassador to South Korea, K.V. Vnukov at a conference at the Institute of National Unification:
“The situation on the Korean peninsula directly affects the security of the Russian people who live very close on the neighboring Russian Far East as well as influences the large scale, rapid-development plans of my government for Siberia and the Russia Far East region. From this point of view, the establishment in the future of a democratic, prosperous and friendly-towards-us united Korea fully reflects Russian political and economic interests.”21

The prospects for Korean reunification are widely discussed by experts with various opinions. The dominant view is that for Russia as a whole the establishment of a single, powerful Korean state is beneficial. From an economic point of view this would be a trade partner, the level of development of which would be more favorable for cooperation with Russia, than, for example, with more developed Japan, but at the same time possesses more contemporary technology than China. In the political sphere Russia has never had serious conflicts with Korea, and also it has no border problems. Besides, there are no fears about Korean migration to Russia (as opposed to China), since Korea, on the whole, is more developed, and in the past Korean migrants showed their best side: they quickly assimilated and contributed significantly to the Russian economy. From the point of view of geopolitics, a more powerful, united Korea can become a useful counterweight to rising Chinese influence, and, probably, will conduct a more independent foreign policy since the threat of war from the north would disappear as would the need to rely on Washington for its defense.22

The majority of experts note that unification is a matter for the distant future, since the governments of both Korean states using nationalist slogans for propagandistic aims, in fact, fear unification. They remark that since unification, more likely than not, would proceed in the form of South Korea swallowing the North, as was the case, for example, in Germany with the West absorbing the East, the North Korean elite is fearful of losing their power and privileges and even of being charged with crimes against their nation. The South Koreans do understand that unification with such an extremely backward state would require enormous outlays and, possibly, lead to political and social instability.23 It is also noted that unification would hardly be allowed by China, not willing to lose a “socialist” ally and gain in its place a rather strong economic and geopolitical competitor.24 Only a small percentage of experts with the most pro-West and anti-North Korean attitudes consider that the crisis in the DPRK is so deep that unification can occur in the near future. There are, however, some doubters on whether a unified Korea would be useful for Russia.25 Above all, these are politicians and experts close to communists and nationalists, who do not want to lose one of the last fortresses of world communism and a determined battler with the hegemony of the West. As a model of unification, should it happen all the same, they suggest various forms of confederation and speak of the need for unity through a new state which would include both the South and the North.

New Events in 2013 and the Reactions of Russia

New tension in the situation on the Korean Peninsula in the spring of 2013, caused by the hardening of the position of the DPRK, was acknowledged in Russia with consternation. Although official Russian rhetoric was little different from what preceded, this time one felt serious concern about an unpredictable young North Korean leader. On the whole, the virulent actions and declarations, as before, were evaluated in Moscow as the consequence of an internal struggle, and, more precisely, as the inclinations of the young leader to prove himself decisive and in control of the situation. Pyongyang’s behavior was explained as the usual inclination of the North Korean leadership to exchange threats for material concessions. In this sense, there is hardly any doubt that Pyongyang has no plan to commit suicide by entering a war. However, many Russian politicians and experts felt that it went too far, and at some point events could get out of control. This attitude can be felt in the words of Sergei Lavrov in an interview with RTVi television on April 9. He blamed Pyongyang, which “openly and flagrantly is violating the Security Council resolution,” calling its actions “unwelcome,” and he expressed concern that «at some moment mutual accusations, threats, and warnings can reach a crisis point, when people drive themselves into a corner, and have to do something in response to public opinion.26

During the crisis the leaders of the Russian Foreign Ministry met several times with the ambassador of the DPRK and communicated to him their concern, and there were issued several rather sharp statements. In the ministry an around-the-clock watch was set up, answering to the Korean desk. Efforts were taken with partners in the Six-Party Talks to coordinate the Russian position.27 During a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in London on April 10, Lavrov publicly expressed full solidarity with the American position. The results of the talks in June of Chinese leader Xi Jinping with President Barack Obama when Xi was in the United States and with the new South Korean president Park Geun-hye were positively evaluated in Russia. In both cases positions on the DPRK drew closer and there was agreement on joint actions for relaxing tensions and, probably, they agreed on measures to pressure Pyongyang. In the future Russia welcomes an easing of the situation and the beginning of talks between the DPRK and the ROK.

On the whole, Pyongyang’s behavior was once again interpreted in Russia as an attempt to “sell” a threat for material assistance. However, the very unusual depth of the crisis and the danger of the situation, probably, strengthens skepticism in Moscow toward its former ally and will contribute to some movement in the Russian position in the direction of a tougher posture toward the DPRK.

1. V.V. Putin, “Vystuplenie na tseremonii vrucheniia veritel’nykh gramot,

2. I.S. Ivanov, Novaia Rossiiskaia diplomatiia: deciat’ let vneshnei politiki strany (Moscow: Odma-press, 2001), 158.

3. I.S. ivanov, Novaia Rossiiskaia diplomatiia, 158.

4. Vneshnepoliticheskaia i diplomaticheskaia deiatel’nost’ Rossiiskoi Federatsii v 2007 gody: Obzor MID Rossii март, 2008,

5. “Rossiia spisala KNRD dolg v 11 milliardov dollarov,” September 12, 2012,

6. “Interv’iu Posla po osobym porucheniiam A. A. Timonina gazete Kommersant,’” November 30, 2011,!OpenDocument.

7. “KNDR: strana bol’shikh vozmozhnostei i narodnogo edunstva,’ K.K. Taisaev o svoei poezdke v Severnuiu Koreiu,” August 8, 2013,

8. Leonid Ivashov, “Severnuiu Koreiu ne slomit’,” Леонид Ивашов,

9. Leonid Ivashov, “Severnuiu Koreiu ne slomit.’”

10. TV Channel 1, “Sudite sami” Program, October 12, 2006 (Transcript),

11. Zaiavlenie Amurskogo regional’nogo otdeleniia partii ‘IaBLOKO,’” February 12, 2013,

12. Channel 1, “Sudite sami,” October 12, 2006,

13. Аleksandr Vorontsov and Vladimir Evseev, “Severnaia Koreia: vyiti iz tupika,” Rossiia v global’noi politike, no. 5 (Sept.-Oct. 2005),; and “KNRD gotova poiti po puti Kitaiskikh reform,

14. Аleksandr Vorontsov, “O prichinakh krizisa na Koreiskom poluostrove,” April 4, 2013,; See also, Aleksandr Zhebin, “KNDR ne khochet sud’by Livii,

15. “Pkhenian stremit’sia v ‘iadernyi klub,’” April 23, 2013,; See also V.I. Denisov, “Koreiskaia iadernaia problema: vozmozhnosti politicheskogo uregulirovaniia sokrashaiutsia,” Analiticheskie zapiski nauchno-koordinatsionnogo soveta po mezhdunarodnym issledovaniiam MGIMO(U) MID Rossii, 8(20), September 2006.

16. “Voiny ne budet, idet bor’ba elit,”, April 11, .2013,

17. “Kommentarii ofitsial’nogo predstavitelia MID Rossii A. K. Lukashevich po situatsii na Koreiskom poluostrove,” April 4, 2013,!OpenDocument.

18. “Vystuplenie Ministra inostrannykh del Rossiiskoi Federatsii S.V. Lavrova na plenarom zacedanii 6-go Vostochnoaziatskogo sammita, o. Bali, Indoneziia,” November 19, 2011,!OpenDocument.

19. “Vystuplenie Ministra inostrannykh del Rossii S.V. Lavrov na plenarnom zasedanii 7-go Vostochnoaziatskogo sammita, Pnompen’, November 20, 2012 goda,”!OpenDocument .

20. “Vystuplenie zamestitelia Ministra inostrannykh del Rossii I.V. Morgulov na zasedanii 27-go Aziatsko-Tikhookenaskogo ‘kruglogo stola’ po bezopasnosti,” Kuala-Lumpur, June 5, 2013,!OpenDocument.

21. “U.S., Japan, Russia on Reunification: Good!” The Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2013,

22. S.V. Khamutaeva, “Problema ob’edineniia Korei v Rossiiskoi istoriografii,” Vestnik Buriatskogo gosuniversiteta, no. 8 (2010): 252-55,; Alexander Lukin, “Russia’s Korea Policy in the 21st Century,” International Journal of Korean Unification Studiesn 18, no.2 (2009): 43-46.

23. Andrei Lankov, “Tsugtsvang Pkhen’iana: Pochemu Severnaia Koreia ne poidet Kitaiskim putem,” Rossiia v global’noi politike 11, no. 2 (2013): 187-97,

24. “Komu nuzhna edinaia Koreia?” Radio “Golos Rossii,” August 16, 2010,

25. Konstantin Asmolov, “Ob’edinenie Koreia—kakie problemy stoit ozhidat’, Part 2,” NEO, April 15, 2013,

26. “Otvety Ministra inostrannykh del Rossii S.V. Lavrov na voprosy telekanala RTVi po situatsii vokrug KNDR,” Moscow April 9, 2013,!OpenDocument.

27. “Replika Ministra inostrannykh del Rossii S.V. Lavrov v otvet na vopros SMI otnositel’no situatsii vokrug KNDR pered nachalom vstrechi s Gossekretarem SshA Dz. Kerri,” London, April 10, 2013,!OpenDocument.

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