Last Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin met in the russian city of Vladivostok.
Located a few miles away from the North Korean border, the far-eastern town was brought to the public eye for a day, only two months after failed talks between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam.
It now seems clear that Russia is trying to get closer to North Korea, while the White House confirmed the death of a U.S student Otto Warmbier, who was detained in Pyonyang.
On the same day of the summit between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin, North Korea announced a bill of $2 million to the United States for the hospital care of the deceased college student.
Putin, the new middle man?
The historical meeting between the North Korean and the Russian leader lasted for more than three hours and a half. Right after, Vladimir Putin decided to give a press conference.
Russian President said to the media that he thought: “Chairman Kim Jong Un is a fairly open person, leading a free discussion on all issues that were on the agenda”, as the CNN reports.
But most importantly, journalists started asking the Russian leader if Un would pursue his conversation with the United States. Putin replied that “Pyongyang would be guided by his “national interests”, adding “we can’t resolve anything without talks” , reported CNN.
According to experts, Vladimir Putin seems to have an increasing influence in the far-east. He is set to travel to Beijing next month in order to meet with Chinese leaders and possibly discuss nuclear projects.
Will North Korea go nuclear?
While border drills have been on going for years, the number of unsuccessful attempts from North Korea have reassured Western countries that it would become impossible for North Korea to have the nuclear weapon.
However, if North Korea starts to become close with Russia and China, this might change.
At the Eastern Economic Forum in 2017, Putin seemed empathetic to North Korea’s quest for nuclear weaponry. Some of his statements may indicate that Russia understands North Korea’s motives for going nuclear and does not see alternatives: https://t.co/jxaQ1yXbzD #PutinKimSummit pic.twitter.com/4OxAPEuL6m
— Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (@BulletinAtomic) April 28, 2019
During an interview given for CNN, Philippe Yun, an anti-nuclear weapon NGO executive said that the summit was “long on symbolism. Kim Jong Un is trying to figure out what his options are and trying to increase his leverage with the United States”.
Yun also confirmed that it was highly likely that Vladimir Putin took this summit as an opportunity to give a seat to Russia at the nuclear table conversation, while it put the country as the same time in a delicate situation between South and North Koreas, as well as the United States and China.
As for North Korea, no official press statement was published.
The United States are in jeopardy
Beyond being an unusual outing for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – who rarely travels abroad, this was a special summit in terms of timing.
The US reportedly agreed to pay a $2 million "bill" for the care of Otto Warmbier, who was returned to the US in a coma and later died. Incredible reporting: https://t.co/sbnqkR06Vc
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) April 25, 2019
The summit happened on the same day that the White House confirmed the U.S paid more than $2 million to get the remains of an American college student, Otto Wembier, who was travelling to North Korea in 2016 and arrested after he tried to steal a propaganda poster in his hotel.
According to his Wikipedia page, he was “released by North Korea in June 2017 in a vegetative state” in coma and died only six days after his body returned to the United States in 2017.
What sparked a strong controversy is that U.S President Donald Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was “not responsible” for Warmbier’s death. The victim’s parents strongly reacted to this statement, saying that the U.S President was defending “his evil regime”.
While the information was confirmed by the Washington Post and other major outlets, the U.S President publicly denied it and tweeted on Friday: “No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else”.
As many observers see this as a sign of weakness, it seems that Kim Jong Un has received many offers to collaborate, whether from the United States, although the meeting was unfruitful and Russia, who would be keen to become North Korea’s middle man in order to get the nuclear weapon.
Next month’s meeting in China between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin will give a good light on what’s to come in terms of World’s New Order for the next year.
In the meantime, the U.S Presidential race for 2020 has already started and Donald Trump has officially announced he would run for his reelection.