Putin Moves On Two Fronts

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit. Photo by the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin is attempting to extend his diplomatic influence on two fronts this week: North Korea and Turkey. His continued efforts to work directly counter to American interests further underscore Russia’s position as an unfriendly rival to the United States.

In North Korea, Putin and Kim Jong Un have been exchanging greater diplomatic niceties through recent weeks. While the North Korean leader had previously been an international pariah, the talks with Trump have opened Un’s image enough to make further travel approachable. With that in mind, Putin has invited Kim Jong Un to a Moscow summit in upcoming days.

The Korea Times reports:

“Our invitation has been handed over,” Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Kremlin presidential aide Yuri Ushako as saying, Wednesday. “The dates will be agreed on. We are awaiting our North Korean counterparts’ response.”

This follows repeated trips between Russia and North Korea by the respective countries’ top diplomats and officials. Expectations are that Kim Jong Un will accept.

On the Western side of Russia, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey is being pressured by the United States and wooed by Russia following the nation’s recent elections.

Erdogan’s party suffered widespread defeat in local campaigns for the first time in years, driven by a waning economy. Immediately afterward, the U.S. announced a halt of fighter aircraft parts to Turkey, as reported by Defense News.

The move comes on the heels of months of warnings to Turkey about their stated intent to deploy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. The United States is concerned both about theft of American weapons technology by the Russians and the continued drift of a NATO ally toward a Russian alliance.

The U.S. may extend its efforts to force Turkey to abandon their military ties with Russia by using the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017. In anticipation of that move, Putin is courting Erdogan by using Russian media (TASS) to spin Erdogan’s election losses as success, and by firming personal ties with actions such as their upcoming visit to the Bolshoi together.

Erdoğan will attend the High-Level Cooperation Council between the two countries and the opening ceremony of the Turkey-Russia cross-cultural year, as well as the gala of the opera Troy in Bolshoi Theatre.         

Hurriyet

It is also likely that Russia had stalled a planned offensive into Syria’s Idlib region in deference to the Turkish leader and his elections. That offensive is expected to begin now that it would not be especially politically damaging to Erdogan, and emphasizes the image Putin wishes to send to Turkey, that it is a more reliable ally than the United States.

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Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.