Our good friend Vladimir is at it again

Terrific: Russians step up economic activity with North Korea to stymie U.S. sanction efforts

By —— Bio and Archives--October 4, 2017

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Vladimir Putin never stops playing geopolitics, and in a twisted and evil sort of way, it’s an entirely rational thing for him to do. Russia is economically weak and militarily inferior to the United States. It has nuclear weapons, but it can’t match our arsenal. It has natural resources - particularly natural gas and other energy reserves - but the U.S. has more and now that we’re finally exploiting them, the Russians are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to manipulating world markets.

Boris Yeltsin believed Russia could and should align more closely with the west. Putin does not. He wants to restore the former glory of Mother Russia as a geopolitical counterforce to the United States. And while he can’t match our military or economic power, he can take advantage of our global pain points and exploit the American political fecklessness that is usually in abundance.

That’s why Putin invaded Crimea. He knew Barack Obama would do nothing to make him pay for it, and once he was there he’d be in a stronger geopolitical position to negotiate for things he really wanted. That’s why Putin protects Iran and assists in threatening Israel. Because nothing will happen to him if he does, and he can use his willingness to do these things to get concessions from the U.S. in other areas. That’s why Putin outmaneuvered Obama in Syria and gained the strategic upper hand in the civil war there. Because Obama didn’t want to get caught up in the fight and Putin was more than happy to. And once Putin had bailed Obama out of his “red line” bluff, Obama owed him.

This is how Putin plays geopolitical chess.

And this is exactly why Putin is now helping Kim Jong Un and his evil regime to maintain its economic viability when the U.S. and others are trying to isolate and bring it down. It’s not because Putin cares one way or the other about what happens in North Korea. He doesn’t. He only cares about strategic leverage, so if the U.S. makes a move it believes is in its strategic interest in North Korea, Putin is going to counter it.

And boy is he:

Yet while Russia has an interest in protecting North Korea, which started life as a Soviet satellite state, it is not giving Pyongyang a free pass: it backed tougher United Nations sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear tests last month.


But Moscow is also playing a fraught double game, by quietly offering North Korea a slender lifeline to help insulate it from U.S.-led efforts to isolate it economically.

A Russian company began routing North Korean internet traffic this month, giving Pyongyang a second connection with the outside world besides China. Bilateral trade more than doubled to $31.4 million in the first quarter of 2017, due mainly to what Moscow said was higher oil product exports.

At least eight North Korean ships that left Russia with fuel cargoes this year have returned home despite officially declaring other destinations, a ploy U.S. officials say is often used to undermine sanctions against Pyongyang.

And Russia, which shares a short land border with North Korea, has also resisted U.S.-led efforts to repatriate tens of thousands of North Korean workers whose remittances help keep the country’s hard line leadership afloat.

“The Kremlin really believes the North Korean leadership should get additional assurances and confidence that the United States is not in the regime change business,” Andrey Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, a think-tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Reuters.


Continued below...

The oil shipments are especially crucial to the survival of the Nork regime, which is totally dependent on outside sources of oil in order to operate its military and keep any semblance of viability among its population. The recent U.S. move to curtail oil exports to North Korea was one of the most serious economic maneuvers against the Kim regime since it was established in the 1940s, and it served as the perfect opportunity for the Russians to step in and fill the gap.

Understand: This is not happening because Donald Trump called Kim “Rocket Man” or said he would destroy North Korea in the event it launches an attack against us. The media hyperventilated about those things, but past presidents have said much the same. No, Putin is doing this because he sees that the U.S. is in a bind and that presents him with an opportunity to take advantage. This is what he does.

How do we respond? We have to respond by recognizing Russia’s own strategic vulnerabilities and by pressuring them to the point where they believe it is more in their best interests to work with us than against us. We need to get North Korea under control. Our security is at stake if we don’t. What does Putin need, and how can we make it as difficult as possible for him to get it?

You can express all the horror you want at Putin’s willingness to prop up one of the most evil regimes in the history of the world, but understand that he does not care for one second. He only cares about putting himself in the most advantageous strategic position possible.

I personally believe that Yeltsin was right and that Putin is wrong about Russia’s best interests, and that Russia would be much better off aligning with the west for all kinds of reasons. Maybe one day Russia will get a leader who sees it that way, and if that happens the geopolitical balance of the world will change dramatically - and for the better.

But that is not the world of today, so if we want to deal with North Korea as we must, then we’d better find a way to make Putin hurt. Power is the only thing he respects.

Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain.com

A new edition of Dan’s book “Powers and Principalities” is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan’s work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.

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