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Russia’s Handling of North Korea

kimjongil060209.jpgYulia Latynina has a new column in the Moscow Times taking a look at Russia’s foreign policy toward North Korea.  We love Yulia, but perhaps my only complaint may be is that she is much too moderate and measured in her words.  She should really stop holding back and let everyone know her true opinions….

Without any warning, North Korea test-fires nuclear missiles that shower debris onto Russian territory. It seizes Russian vessels in what it considers to be its territorial waters. A few years ago, Kim promised then-President Vladimir Putin that he would destroy his nuclear weapons — only to say several days later that he was just joking.

Kim Jong Il is a son of a bitch. But unlike what former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza was to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the North Korean dictator is definitely not “our son of a bitch.”

Does North Korea’s aggressive foreign policy benefit Russia? As a member of the nuclear club, Russia has a strong strategic interest in making sure that no new members are admitted — particularly maniacal ones.

Latynina goes on to argue that the Russian government likes it when North Korea plays nuke games because it causes spikes in oil prices.  We’ve written in the past that there is a certain element of managed instability as a goal of Russian foreign policy, but in this case I would argue that Russia is quietly very, very worried about what North Korea is up to.  If they are not, they should get their heads examined.