Vladimir Petrovskiy, chief researcher, Russia-China Center, Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of SciencesDr. Vladimir Petrovsky emphasized, that the solution to the Korean problem lies in the path of gradual development of a political dialogue, nuclear non-proliferation and bilateral relations in all areas under a favorable external environment. “The development of confidence-building measures on the Korean Peninsula is the main content of this process.”, he said.

As the administration of President Moon Jae In considers cooperation with North Korea as a factor to expedite the development of the South Korean economy in the future, Seoul might be prompted to involve Pyongyang in projects of regional economic cooperation, such as the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the ‘Northern Policy’ pursued by the Republic of Korea, the Russian initiatives on trilateral infrastructure development projects, involving Russia and both Koreas, the UNDP’s Enhanced Tumen River Project, etc.

The consolidated position of Moscow and Beijing, aimed at the normalization of the situation around the Korean Peninsula through the development of trade and economic cooperation involving Russia, South and North Korea, contributes to these developments. Trilateral diplomatic and/or track-two consultations between Russia, China and South Korea on the situation around the Korean Peninsula, could also be considered.

Russia has consistently supported building bridges between Seoul and Pyongyang and favors the steps of the two Koreas toward independent, peaceful unification. In this, Russia is keeping an independent position, which ensures its role as one of the defining elements of the system of “checks and balances” in Northeast Asia. North Korea’s emerging from its isolation, enjoying socioeconomic growth and becoming a full participant in international communication - all this would only benefit Russia and Russia’s neighbors in Northeast Asia. The DPRK as a relatively secure and confident country is a much more reliable partner for negotiations on any issues than one cornered under the burden of sanctions.

Russia, USA, China, Japan – all have the same goal of denuclearization, but the question is how to achieve that. “If you want to get something, you need to give something” – is the main point of the policy, which Russia and China think can only work with North Korea. So, the members of UN Security Council need to find a mechanism to ease sanctions in response to making steps toward denuclearization. Just as the USA is a very proud country, North Koreans are also very proud.

Dr. Petrovsky added that we need to remember that, in fact, no other country (neither Russia, nor Japan, nor the USA) has as much influence on the situation on the Korean Peninsula than China. In fact, North Korea is in some ways a 100% Chinese client! Which is not bad, in fact, because as one of the courtiers, which has nuclear weapons, China must feel responsible for the situation. Russia is not happy about having an illegal nuclear power state next to its border. That is why Russia together with China made a policy to work on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The Trans Korean railway project is very important for Russia-North Korea and inter-Korean relations. Russia first proposed the idea of this infrastructural connectivity between the two Koreas a few years ago. The idea was to have a trans-Korean gas pipeline built by Russia and a trans-Korean railway. The North and South Korea railway could be connected to the Russian Trans-Siberian railway and the same goes for the so-called Asian Super Grid, which is a multilateral energy project. Nowadays, Russia has an excessive amount of energy produced by its hydroelectric power plants and Russia is able to export this electricity to neighboring countries, including China, North and South Korea and Japan at quite good prices. The only obstacle to this is the situation on the Korean Peninsula. As long as North Korea doesn’t trust South Korea, thinking that South Korea is a client of the USA, it is difficult to achieve practical results. As soon as North and South Korea are able to find trust in each other, all of these ideas can be implemented very quickly, because everything is ready for this!

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