Speaking at the BRICS summit in China on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said further sanctions against North Korea “would now be useless and ineffective,” because “they will eat grass but they will not turn away from the path that will provide for their security.”
“What can establish security? The restoration of international law. We should promote dialogue among all interested parties,” Putin added, without explaining what kind of “dialogue” would convince North Korea to give up its often-stated unshakable goal of developing nuclear missiles—a goal Putin himself said the North Koreans would not surrender, even if sanctions impoverished them to the point of eating grass to survive.
Putin’s comments about North Korea justifiably fearing for its own “security” sound like a tacit endorsement of Pyongyang’s demands for an end to joint U.S.-South Korean military drills as a precondition for further talks.
Putin simultaneously described sanctions against North Korea as the “road to nowhere,” warning of a possible humanitarian catastrophe if food and fuel shipments to Kim Jong-un’s poverty-stricken subjects are interrupted, and yet also said Russia is willing to discuss “some details” about further punitive measures.
He then mocked the notion of the United States asking Russia for help with North Korea after slapping Russia with sanctions because of the situation in Ukraine, and Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“It’s ridiculous to put us on the same list as North Korea and then ask for our help in imposing sanctions on North Korea. This is being done by people who mix up Australia with Austria,” the Russian president sneered.
Putin falsely claimed that Russia conducts no significant trade with North Korea, when in fact Russia supplies a great deal of North Korea’s fuel, imports slave labor from them, and increased its trade with them by an estimated 73 percent in the first few months of 2017. The U.S. State Department criticized Russia earlier this summer for increasing trade with North Korea to alleviate the pressure from China ratcheting up sanctions against the rogue regime.
Putin did include some warnings and criticism for North Korea in his remarks. He said Russia “condemns North Korea’s exercises, we consider that they are a provocation.”
“We should not forget, and North Koreans should not forget, what happened in Iraq,” Putin said, although given his other comments about “military hysteria” potentially leading to “global catastrophe,” this might have been meant as a slam against a supposedly war-feverish United States as much as a dire warning for North Korea.