President Donald Trump’s first year in the White House has been anything but straightforward and two subjects, Russia and North Korea, are at the forefront of Trump’s foreign policy woes. President Trump has stated on numerous occasions that he sees Russia and China as the key to resolving the conflict between the U.S. and North Korea over Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons program.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, during his visit to Asia, Trump called on China to intervene to force North Korea to accede to international demands. The Chinese sent a high-level delegation to North Korea but it returned empty-handed after Kim Jong-un refused to meet with the Chinese envoy. President Trump’s attempts to use Russia to pressurize North Korea have proved equally fruitless. The problem that the Trump administration faces is that both Russia and China have a very different outlook on North Korea, and they both see President Trump as part of the problem.
Both Russia and China favor a “freeze for freeze” agreement between the U.S. and North Korea. In essence, they want North Korea to freeze their nuclear program, but they also want Trump to roll back the buildup of U.S. forces around the Korean peninsula. The Russian’s in particular also want Donald Trump to curb his “aggressive rhetoric” towards the North Korean regime.
As reported by Newsweek, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has blasted President Trump’s aggressive stance, saying that it serves only to increase tension on the Korean peninsula. Lavrov said that Trump and Kim Jong-un’s threats to destroy the other are “unacceptable,” and that Trump must “build bonds” with North Korean officials. In short, Lavrov makes clear that Russia’s view is that diplomacy, rather than threats, is the way to resolve the USA vs. North Korea conflict.
As reported by CNN, the Kremlin also released a statement on Boxing Day offering to mediate between Trump and North Korea. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that it was impossible to mediate unless both Trump and North Korea are willing to enter into meaningful dialogue.
The message to Trump from Russia comes just days after the United Nations Security Council agreed to impose a further round of sanctions on North Korea. Whilst Russia voted to enforce the U.S. drafted sanctions, Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vasilly Nebenzia, was fiercely critical of the resolution. Nebenzia said that “unfortunately, our call to preclude a further escalation of tensions, to revise the policy of mutual intimidation, was not heeded.”
The comments from three senior Russian officials, criticizing President Trump, in a matter of days shows that the Kremlin and the White House are some distance apart on North Korea. If Trump wants Russia to help to bring North Korea to heel, that gap will need to be narrowed.