Vladimir Putin, of all people, is attempting to be the voice of reason regarding the tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. In a post on the Kremlin website Friday, Putin warned that the two countries were “on the verge of a large scale conflict” and cautioned the United States against putting too much pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear development.
Putin beseeched the two nations to engage in productive talks to resolve their differences. “It is essential to resolve the region’s problems through direct dialogue involving all sides without advancing any preconditions [for such talks],” Putin wrote. “Provocations, pressure and bellicose and offensive rhetoric is the road to nowhere.”
Russia doesn’t believe pressuring Pyongyang is the way to stop North Korean nuclear missile programs. Russia and China advocate a plan in which North Korea stops the nuclear missile program in exchange for the U.S. and South Korea discontinuing large scale war games, which North Korea views as threatening.
Russia has long been an ally of North Korea, but has played a passive role in the relationship between North Korea and the United States. This isn’t the first time Putin has urged against escalating tensions through shows of force and aggressive rhetoric.
Even though Russia favors North Korea, they do not favor North Korean nuclear proliferation. A nuclear North Korea could lead to a nuclear South Korea and a nuclear Japan, which shifts the balance of power in the region in a way that goes against Russian interests. However, Russia has not taken any tangible actions to curb North Korea’s nuclear progress.