You are here

Denuclearization and Peace in Korea

UNIFIED KOREA: NATIONAL AND REGIONAL PERSPECTIVES

IN SEARCH FOR DENUCLEARIZATION AND PEACE IN KOREA: A VIEW FROM RUSSIA

Dr. Alexander Zhebin, Director, Center for Korean Studies, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Moscow  

Abstract

Attempts to reinvigorate the Cold War–era military-political alliances and create new similar combinations to deter a peaceful rise of Russia and China remain a major obstacle to establishing a new comprehensive peace mechanism in Northeast Asia. Especially destructive are calculations to the effect that a future unified Korea will become a de-facto forward base of maritime powers, the United States and Japan, against continental powers, China and Russia. Such a course can draw new division lines and hamper (and is already hindering) the establishment of a comprehensive and sustainable peace system in Northeast Asia, the solution of the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula, and the re-unification of Korea. This paper argues that neutralization of a unified Korea will be a major “bargain,” or compromise among the four “big countries” (the USA, China, Russia and Japan) and presents some outlines for such a deal.

Key words: Korean peninsula, unification, neutralization, alliance, peace mechanism

I. Introduction

History proves that any serious aggravation of the situation, the more so armed conflicts, on the Korean peninsula always jeopardized Russia’s security and compelled her to undertake additional measures to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities in the region. Several times Russia had to use her armed forces in Korea to protect her interests against non-continental adversaries, as happened in 1904-1905, 1945 and, finally, though on a very limited scale, in 1950-1953.

That is why Russia is vitally interested in maintenance of peace and stability in Korea. Transition of inter-Korean relations to the stage of peaceful coexistence as well as promotion of good-neighborhood and mutually advantageous cooperation with other regional states in Northeast Asia is getting ever more important in view of Russia’s “Turning to the East” policy and cooling relations between Russia and the West because of their different approaches to events in Ukraine, Syria, some other parts of the world.

This paper explains reasons for Russia’s consistent support for the process of reconciliation, rapprochement, and cooperation in Korea. It also provides some outlines of Moscow’s vision of a united Korea and her place in a future security architecture in the region which should be acceptable for all major parties concerned.

2. Unification of Korea and Russia’s Interests

Russia generally welcomes all moves by the two Korean states aimed at relaxation of tension and promoting inter-Korean cooperation because of two major considerations: Moscow hopes that inter-Korean reconciliation, firstly, will remove a threat of military conflict right next to her Eastern border, and secondly, will promote a more favorable environment for both the development of Russia’s bilateral economic ties with two Korean states as well as for implementation of multilateral economic projects with participation of Russia and both Korean states in Northeast Asia.

Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept, approved by President V. Putin in 2016, states that “Russia is interested in maintaining traditionally friendly relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, and will seek to ease confrontation and de-escalate tension on the Korean Peninsula, as well as achieve reconciliation and facilitate intra-Korean cooperation by promoting political dialogue.”[i]

There are expectations that in the long run a unified Korea will be a country capable to maintain relations of friendship and cooperation with Russia.

But there should be no doubt that Russia’s priority concerning realization of any unification scenario remains maintenance of peace and stability on the peninsula. It is also important for Moscow to ensure the most possible predictability of the final result of the re-unification process. The high degree of uncertainty concerning the character of the foreign policy of a unified Korea, her participation in military-political alliances with other countries and orientations of such alliances, compels Russia, as well as other powers, while welcoming inter-Korean détente, to take a more cautious position toward prospects of unification.

One can hardly expect Russia (or China) to welcome as a new neighbor a country with a 75-million population under the prevailing influence of the USA, the more so with the U.S. troops on its territory. Some prominent Russian experts consider that the continuing presence of U.S. troops stationing in South Korea is anachronism of the Cold War period.[ii] They believe it is necessary to put an end to a foreign military presence in Korea after possible re-unification since it can be directed only against Russia (and her strategic partner China).

Moscow also keeps in mind that U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula are protected by the THAAD Missile Defense system deployed by the USA in South Korea. Russia is also well aware of U.S. plans to deploy new medium-range missiles in South Korea and Japan and have already warned both U.S. allies of negative consequences such developments inevitably would bring about.[iii]

Generally speaking, since the middle of the nineteenth century the real task for Russia’s foreign policy has been not to become a dominant power on the Korean peninsula, but to prevent such a situation when Korea would be placed under the influence of another state, especially one unfriendly to Russia.[iv]

Since under the present balance of power in Northeast Asia one could not exclude  such a scenario completely, the existence of the DPRK as the friendly sovereign state carrying out a role of a certain buffer for geopolitical ambitions of the USA in the region is favorable to Moscow (and Beijing, too), at least in a short and mid-term perspective.

In view of the factors specified above, the DPRK’s unification formula, which calls for creation of a neutral non-aligned state on the peninsula, looks, from the point of view of Russia’s security interests, more attractive than South Korea’s commitment to the American military presence even after unification of Korea.

Russia’s firm conviction is that there is no alternative to inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation. Moscow never failed to emphasize that “Russia supports the policy of developing dialogue between the two Korean states and bringing them closer together” and that “Russia has always aspired to, and today expresses its unequivocal support for, a dialogue and rapprochement of the Korean states and maintaining a denuclearized Korean peninsula.”[v]

Normalization of the situation on the Korean peninsula completely suits Russia’s national interests  because tension arising from time to time between Pyongyang and Seoul blocks realization of multilateral economic projects, like oil and gas pipelines, linking the Russian Trans-Siberian Mainline with the Trans-Korean railways. Russia believes that cooperation in a tripartite format—between Russia, the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea—in the energy and transportation sectors can be a very important part of expanding bilateral cooperation between Moscow and Seoul.[vi] This is Russia’s consistent position since Mr. Putin was elected President of Russia in 2000.

Better relations between the DPRK and the ROK, along with providing more favorable conditions for development of trade and economic cooperation between Russia and both Korean states, undoubtedly would open new opportunities for economic development of the Russian Far East and for linking its economy to integration processes in the Asia-Pacific region. Such interaction is highly likely to contribute to confidence-building between South and North Korea.

President Putin re-confirmed this stance several times during his tenure. In an interview with the Korean Broadcasting System before his official visit to the ROK in November 2013 he said: “We definitely support the aspiration of Koreans for national unification. It’s a natural process. However, I take as a point of departure that it should be exclusively peaceful and take into account the interests of the North, as well as of the South. . . .[vii] [Nothing] should be imposed on partners, otherwise the process will become destructive instead of having a positive outcome,” he elaborated.[viii]

The Russian leader further explained that “such a process is positive for Russia. . . . If it happens, I believe cooperation between Russia and Korea as a whole will take on even new aspects. We will definitely advance, since all possible limitations connected with political issues will be overcome. And then it’ll probably be easier to implement joint infrastructure projects”.[ix]

The situation with implementation of these projects, which have being under discussion since the 1990s, has become so indecent that at a press conference after a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vladivostok in April 2019, Mr. Putin suggested that South Korea “lacks sovereignty” when making final decisions on these projects because of her allied obligations to the United States.[x]

Meanwhile, it is clear that without the involvement of the DPRK in the integration processes in in Northeast Asia, including connecting the Trans-Korean railway with the Trans-Siberian mainline, the ROK’s so-called “new Northern policy,”  figuratively speaking, “hangs in the air” and leaves the ROK in the position of a de facto island in Northeast Asia.

So based on both security and economic reasons, Russia is vitally interested in peace and reconciliation in Korea. This conclusion seems especially  important in view of continuing attempts by some experts to convince public opinion than none of the neighboring countries, including Russia, is interested in Korea’s unification. Such attempts are aimed at preserving certain countries’ military presence on the peninsula and in the region indefinitely.

3. Nuclear Problem: Toward a Comprehensive Solution

Moscow is convinced that only the removal of the mutual concerns of all parties involved in the former Six-Party Talks on the Korean peninsula nuclear program on the basis of a broad compromise will make it possible to achieve the goals of the world community with regard to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Russia’s firm stand is to achieve this aim through political-diplomatic means only.

Firstly, any war on Russia’s borders, to say nothing of one with a high probability of using WMDs, will be a direct threat to her national interests. The security of Russia’s Far Eastern region and its population’s lives directly depend on how events in Korea will evolve.

In case of an armed conflict on the peninsula, the radioactive clouds from dozens of  South Korean “Chernobyls” (many of the 25 nuclear reactors at the ROK atomic power plants could be destroyed by North Korea just with conventional weapons only), and streams of refugees would not reach the U.S. Pacific coast, but they would certainly reach Russia’s Far East territory.[xi]

Threat of a major conflict on the peninsula can sharply increase the outflow of the population from the Russian Far East. In case a war is unleashed, the demographic situation in the Far East can become just catastrophic.

Finally, in case of an armed conflict in Korea, Moscow could hardly expect implementation of multilateral energy and transportation projects in this region with which Russia links social and economic development of her Far Eastern region.

As early as in 2005, well before North Korea’s first nuclear test, Russia had warned that major obstacles to the DPRK’s better behavior were “rather tough pressure exerted by some partners.” Moscow believes that to solve the problem “we should not push the situation into the corner.” [xii]

Russia’s position on the issue did not change during the Medvedev presidency (2008-2012). He also believed that “we should make attempts, we should talk, and we should try and offer incentives to North Korea to make it see that there is no alternative to cooperation, that nuclear power engineering and nuclear programs must be exclusively peaceful. This is the only way to achieve progress. And we are ready for that.”[xiii]

President Putin in his Moscow News article on foreign policy, published on February 27, 2012 during election campaign, pointed out that “all this fervor around the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea makes one wonder how the risks of nuclear weapons proliferation emerge and who is aggravating them. It seems that the more frequent cases of crude and even armed outside interference in the domestic affairs of countries may prompt authoritarian (and other) regimes to possess nuclear weapons.”[xiv]

It is essential to do everything we can to prevent any country from being tempted to get nuclear weapons. Non-proliferation campaigners must also change their conduct, especially those that are used to penalizing other countries by force, without letting the diplomats do their job. This was the case in Iraq—its problems have only become worse after an almost decade-long occupation.[xv]

During the last two decades North Korea has taken advantage of the “draw situation” between the USA and rising China in the region. Having been frightened by USA-led invasions of a number of countries and feeling incapable to defend itself with obsolete conventional armaments, Pyongyang has started to develop missile and nuclear weapons to deter a possible attack or prevent a regime change scenario.

However, the DPRK’s priority remains a compromise solution as the only way to remove an external threat and to get access to investments and assistance from the West. The latter is vitally important for North Korea since only then it will be possible to revive and modernize the country’s economy. Without that, it will be very difficult for the regime to survive while trying to turn the country into a “normal” Asian state.

So the destiny of any future talks on the nuclear problem will depend mainly on what choice will be made by the USA—whether it limits its demands to North Korea to a nonproliferation agenda or continues to pursue simultaneously backstage  a regime change scenario. In the latter case the DPRK is unlikely to give up its nuclear deterrent.

4. U.S. “Grand Design” for the Korean Peninsula

Several American scholars were looking for a rather long time for ways and means to radically strengthen the U.S. positions in Northeast Asia through the introduction of a new security system in the region. The system’s major advantage would be allowing the U.S. to retain its military presence in the region.  American political scientists and think tanks are competing to invent any excuses to justify maintaining the U.S. military contingent in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula in case the relations between the two Korean states will be normalized.

In August of 2019 a group of well-known U.S. scholars published a report suggesting that “U.S. Forces in Korea may shift from being a solely partisan deterrent force in Korea to becoming a pivot deterrent, one that provides reassurance to both Koreas that neither will attack the other and that facilitates communication, cooperation, and collaboration between United Nations Command (UNC), UNC allies, and the two Korean military forces to reconfigure their respective forces, and to employ them in constructive ways to support peacemaking and the formation of trust between political and military commanders, rather than preparing for war.”[xvi] 

Other U.S. experts explore a possibility of including the DPRK along with the ROK in the U.S.-led future security system, embracing both North and South Korea in case Pyongyang accepts the American script for denuclearization. It would allow the U.S. to establish its control over a unique in strategic value subregion in Northeast Asia, which is located on joint of borders of Russia and China. It is assumed that in this situation, the U.S. will act as a guarantor of the security of the entire Korean Peninsula (not only South, but North Korea as well).[xvii]

The calculation is that although the DPRK and the PRC have recently improved bilateral relations, Pyongyang nevertheless allegedly perceives China’s rise as “potentially threatening to its own foreign policy autonomy and political independence.”[xviii]

Consequently, American experts conclude that North Korea may be more receptive to the idea of a U.S.-proposed alignment of forces in the region. According to these calculations, among the tasks of a future trilateral partnership in the field of security will be: firstly, “preventing Chinese domination over the Korean Peninsula” to “allow North and South Korea to determine their own future, either separately or together”; secondly, “managing and defusing the broader Chinese strategic threat to the Asia-Pacific region”; and thirdly, making Japan feel more comfortable in an environment of inter-Korean détente in order to prevent the resurgence of nationalism and militarism in that country.[xix] 

It looks like a new U.S. strategy includes two stages: firstly, applying “maximum pressure” to the DPRK in order to isolate and weaken the country as much as possible; and secondly, offering to Pyongyang “security guarantees” plus “prosperity” as a carrot according to Trump’s numerous  forecasts or promises of prosperity and bright future for North Korea.” Perhaps in the hope of winning in this “Grand Slam” geopolitical combination there is a hidden secret, uncharacteristic for a U.S. president—patience—which he has demonstrated toward the DPRK and its leader even after failure of Hanoi summit. 

However, the DPRK-China summits—on the eve as well as after all top-level talks between the DPRK and the U.S. and South Korea—testified that Pyongyang, though not averse to play such games with Washington, is not going to put all eggs into a single basket.  As Chairman Kim Jong-un’s emotional congratulations to Mr. Putin on the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War on May 9 testified, “strategic and traditional relations of friendship” with Moscow continue to figure prominently in North Korea’s foreign policy calculus.[xx]

While praising Trump, the North Koreans hardly failed to notice both continuation of the “maximum pressure” campaign and U.S. recent actions against Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro. Pyongyang has enough ground to suspect that the advanced technologies for changing “rogue regimes,” tested in Venezuela, will be used not only in Latin America.

5. Vision of the Unified Korea

Meanwhile history of the Korean settlement for the past 30 years, including time and again the difficulties in solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula, suggests that without the solution of a certain fundamental problem, directly related to the region’s future security architecture as a whole, we will continue to incessantly stumble on minor problems and will not be capable to tackle them.

The fundamental, key issue which any peace process in Northeast Asia should work to resolve is defining a place for a unified Korea in the future regional security system that is acceptable to all “big countries.” Short of such a vision each and every participant of such a peace mechanism will remain very suspicious about others’ plans and actions.

Many politicians and experts in the USA, ROK and Japan have already listed a unified Korea as a member of the tripartite alliance of USA-Japan-ROK, to which Australia has been also linked by a number of military-related agreements.[xxi]

 However, such plans are unlikely to be welcomed in Moscow and Beijing. Both countries are likely to perceive such an alliance as a deterrent against Russia and China. Such a bloc would be tantamount to the emergence on Russia’s eastern borders of a body similar to NATO, under the umbrella of a THAAD system which is actively deployed by the USA and their allies in the region.

Calculations to the effect that a unified Korea will be de-facto a forward base of maritime powers (the United States and Japan) against continental powers (China and Russia) can hamper and is already hindering both the establishment of a reliable and sustainable peace system in Northeast Asia, the solution of the nuclear problem and the re-unification of Korea.

The issue of a unified Korean state’s foreign policy’s orientation and its future alliances is extremely important, of course, not only for Russia but also for China, the USA and Japan, and, of course, for the Koreans themselves.

Neutralization of a unified Korea with international guarantees from the USA, China, Russia and Japan may be the most acceptable option to all those concerned and generally interested in an early and peaceful Korean settlement. Members of the “Big Four” (China, Russia, the USA and Japan) should give formal guarantees of the unified Korea’s neutral status. This status could be supported and reinforced by the UN Security Council, which can adopt a special resolution to that effect.

The “big countries” should also make a commitment to refrain from entering into any military alliance with the unified Korea and promise to each other and to the Koreans, of course, to never deploy troops on Korean soil (except in cases of unanimous decisions by the UN Security Council adopted in accordance with the UN Charter).

For its part, the unified Korea also should declare herself a neutral state, not conclude military treaties with other countries (the existing agreements between China and North Korea, and South Korea and the United States to cease to have effect in due time), and not invite any foreign troops on her territory. Korean troops can be sent overseas only as a peacekeeping or disaster relieve force following relevant decisions by the UN Security Council. The participation of the united Korea in various non-military international and regional organizations (APEC, ASEM, ASEAN Regional Forum, etc.), and bilateral agreements on economic, trade and cultural cooperation, would be encouraged and supported.

The obligations taken and promises given by the North and the South to each other in a number of inter-Korean documents to achieve unification through peaceful means should acquire legal status and be guaranteed by the Big Four. Those guarantees and related conditions must be accepted by Seoul and Pyongyang. This will allow them to proceed to substantial mutual reductions of armed forces and armaments along with simultaneous withdrawal of foreign troops from the peninsula. As a result, the DPRK will be able to release considerable funds for modernization of her economy and infrastructure, and the Republic of Korea will get additional money to assist the North to fulfill the task.

Neutralization of the unified Korea will be a major “bargain” or compromise among the Big Four. It must be reached to serve as a cornerstone for a sustainable peace mechanism in Northeast Asia. The future security architecture in the region should be fair,  in other words provide the region’s countries with such external conditions that are most conducive to their common security and socio-economic development. It also should ensure finding and implementing mutually acceptable compromises, and not become a tool for imposing the interests of one or other group of countries onto other participants of such an organization. Russia stands for establishing exactly such a mechanism.[xxii]

6. Conclusion

The German chancellor Bismarck once noted that politics is the art of the possible. And to be effective, it must take into account existing realities. The stark reality in the Korean case is that during the last 14 years North Korea has become a de facto nuclear-missile power. Demanding that such the country shut down all her nuclear and missile programs and realize complete dismantlement of all relevant facilities and after that “allow” her, after “re-joining” the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to revive the peaceful parts of those programs “from scratch” looks very attractive from a propaganda point of view, but politically an unrealistic task.

By the way, the United States, while insisting that the world community should continue to exert “maximum pressure” onto Pyongyang and support the U.S. Final Fully Verifiable Denuclearization formula for North Korea, has already embraced a much more realistic approach. Donald Trump’s reaction to North Korean missile tests in 2019 and early this year was very indicative of the new U.S. policy. The U.S. president preferred to ignore the DPRK’s latest missile launches as “unimportant,” tweeting that “these missile tests are not a violation of our signed Singapore agreement, nor was there discussion of short range missiles when we shook hands.”

It looks like that without much ado Washington and Pyongyang have agreed to trade the North Korean moratorium on ICBM testing for tacit U.S. consent to the DPRK’s launch of medium and short range missiles. This new approach also demonstrates that the U.S. once again, like it happened many times in the past, awarded itself with the right to interpret UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea according to the White House’s current policy twists. Nowadays they prefer to ignore the Security Council ban on any North Korean launch using ballistic technologies.

Should Russia and China, in view of this new situation, continue to pursue full denuclearization of the Korean peninsula or take a more realistic approach? The more so since the new approach is discussed widely by the American experts? Some of them argue that the realistic task today is to ensure not the elimination but limitation and modification of the DPRK nuclear and missile programs. We should try firstly to restrict and freeze and, at the next stage, downsize and possibly eliminate the most destabilizing military components of nuclear and missile programs. All above mentioned steps could be possible only simultaneously with relevant progress in addressing the DPRK and other regional players’ security concerns.

President Putin during his Vladivostok summit with Chairman Kim Jong-un on April 25, 2019 expressed support for the gradual process of trading nuclear disarmament for sanction relief and said that the DPRK needs security guarantees, possibly not only from the U.S., but other nations, too, before abandoning her nuclear arsenal.[xxiii]

Speaking to journalists after the summit, the Russian president said that “our interests coincide with those of the United States” on the issue of denuclearization.[xxiv] He informed Donald Trump of the key results of his meeting with Kim Jong-un, “stressing that Pyongyang’s good-faith fulfillment of its commitments should be accompanied by reciprocal steps to ease the sanctions pressure on North Korea”[xxv]

Easing sanctions and providing conditions for the DPRK’s participation in the implementation of energy, infrastructure and other multilateral economic projects in the region would be (along with multilateral security guarantees) another proof for her ruling elite that the international community took the path of gradual integration of the DPRK into the political, financial, trade networks of the modern world instead of trying to realize a regime change in the country.

It will be much easier for the Big Four to cooperate on the Korean issue in the economic field because they have a rather rich experience of doing so, starting from the KEDO project and fuel deliveries to DPRK during the Six-Party talks (2003-2008), to say nothing about the more than 30 years-long activity of UN agencies and various NGO in providing the country with humanitarian assistance and development aid. Economic engagement free from political conditions could become a major trust-building measure between the DPRK and the outside world.

In general, the events on the peninsula in 2018-2019 showed the realism of the proposals put forward by Russia and China in their MFA joint statement on July 4, 2017, although the main disputing parties—the United States and North Korea—prefer not to mention the initiative. Russia and China will have to convince the United States and some of its allies of the futility of their attempts to use the non-proliferation agenda to advance their geopolitical plans in the region and seriously seek a negotiated solution to the Korean problems, taking into account the security interests of all regional powers.

At the moment any breakthrough in the solution of the nuclear problem is highly unlikely in view of the COVID-19 pandemic uncertainties and forthcoming presidential elections in the USA. So the best option for Koreans would be to resume implementation of the bilateral agreements and understandings reached between South and North Korea at the various bilateral talks held during several previous decades, including those agreed upon at the inter-Korean summits in 2018. It is high time for the Koreans both in the North and in the South to take their nation’s destiny in their own hands.

Notes


[i] Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation (approved by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on November 30, 2016). 2232-01-12-2016. URL

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/official_documents/-/asset_publisher/CptICkB6BZ29/content/id/2542248 

[ii] Denisov V.Inter-Korean Settlement and Russia's Interests. Moscow. International Affairs, 2002, No.1, p. 59.

[iii] Послание Президента Федеральному Собранию. 20 февраля 2019 года.

URL:http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/59863

[iv] Tkachenko V. Korean Peninsula and Russia's Interests. Moscow. Orient Literature Publishing House. 2000, p.165.

[v] Vladimir Putin met with the President of the Republic of Korea Roh Moo Hyun, Pusan, November 19, 2005. URL: http:\\www.mid.ru

[vi] Titarenko M. Russia and Her Asian Partners in Globalizing World. Strategic Interaction: Problems &Prospects.  Forum Publishing House. Moscow. 2012. p. 471.

[vii] Official site of the President of Russia. Interview to Korean Broadcasting System.12 November 2013, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region, 12 November 2013, URL: http://eng.news.kremlin.ru/news/6258

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Official site of the President of Russia. Interview to Korean Broadcasting System.12 November 2013, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region 12 November 2013. URL:  http://eng.news.kremlin.ru/news/6258

[x] News conference following Russian-North Korean talks. April 25, 2019.Russky Island, Vladivostok. URL:http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/60370

[xi] Zhebin, Alexander.  The Future Vision for a United Korean Peninsula: A Russian Perspective. In One Korea: Visions of Korean unification.  Ed. by Tae-Hwan KwakSeung-Ho Joo. Routledge. 2017. p.155.

[xii] V.Putin’s interview to CBS anchor Mike Wallace. May 9, 2005. http://www.mid.ru

[xiii] Official site of the President of Russia. Interview by Dmitry Medvedev to China Central Television (CCTV) April 12, 2011,  Gorki, Moscow Region. URL: http://eng.news.kremlin.ru/transcripts/2059

[xiv] Putin V. Russia and the Changing World. Moscow News. February 27, 2012.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Morton Halperin, Peter Hayes, Thomas Pickering, Leon Sigal, Philip Yun. (2018). From enemies to security partners: pathways to denuclearization in Korea, NAPSNet Policy Forum, 6 July 2018. URL: https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-policy-forum/from-enemies-to-security-partnerspathways-to-denuclearization-in-korea.

[xvii] McKinney, William. Korea at a Crossroads: Time for a US-ROK-DPRK Strategic Realignment // 38NORTH. 17 September 2018. URL: https://www.38north.org/2018/09/wmckinne y091718.

[xviii] Depetris D. (2019). Troops for Nukes: Should the US Trade Its Forces in South Korea for North Korean Denuclearization? 38NORTH, 21 November 2019. URL: http://www.jpi.or.kr/eng/regular/policy_view.sky?code=EnOther&id=5365

[xix] McKinney, William. Korea at a Crossroads: Time for a US-ROK-DPRK Strategic Realignment // 38NORTH. 17 September 2018. URL: https://www.38north.org/2018/09/wmckinne y091718

[xx] Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un Sends Greetings to Russian President.KCNA. 9May, 2020. URL:http://www.kcna.kp/kcna.user.special.getArticlePage.kcmsf

[xxi] Australia pushes defense ties with Japan. AFP Tokyo dispatch,  April 22, 2011.

[xxii] Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation (approved by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on November 30, 2016). 2232-01-12-2016. URL:

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/official_documents/-/asset_publisher/CptICkB6BZ29/content/id/2542248

[xxiii] News conference following Russian-North Korean talks. 25.04.2019. Vladivostok. Russky Island. URL: http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/60370

[xxiv] News conference following Russian-North Korean talks. 25.04.2019. Vladivostok. Russky Island. URL: http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/60370

[xxv] Telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump. 03.05.2019.

URL: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/60469


Dr. Alexander Zhebin is Director of the Center for Korean Studies (CKS) of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies (IFES) of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1975. He has spent 12 years in North Korea as a journalist and a diplomat. 

He joined IFES in 1992 and since then participated in various international seminars on Korean affairs at home and abroad. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the IFES in 1998. Dr. Zhebin has been the Director of CKS since 2004.