Almost all neighboring countries encounter several challenges and clashes although such nations are expected to live harmoniously and cooperate. In the pursuit of their national interests, neighboring countries engage in stiff competition that exposes them to conflicts. The case of Russia and Korea brings into perspective the contention concerning nuclear proliferation and unification issues across the Korean peninsula. In the bid to study the issue, the paper establishes that Russia has proclaimed to support the unification of North and South Korea although its conditions prevent the attainment of the goal.
Significance of the Topic
Based on the above account, the topic is critical because it delves into significant matters associated with cross-border and interstate stability. Given that peaceful co-existence is the primary objective in international relations, the issue is of utmost importance. Although crucial, peace is elusive. Consequently, state actors often look for ways that can facilitate the achievement of the aim. In addition, nuclear proliferation is a matter that concerns the whole world. It is acknowledged that one way of ensuring global peace is to ward against any nuclear proliferation. In this regard, a study that focuses on the phenomenon is timely. Going through, the paper also distinguishes the main features of the conflict; thus, it is useful in identifying measures necessary to mitigate the problem. In essence, the topic is integral to the understanding of conflict resolution, in general.
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It is also apparent that the subject helps understand how Russia’s policy has been evolving about the Korean peninsula. At the same time, it is possible to comprehend the position that Russia has taken concerning the nuclear ambitions of North Korea. Given the contested relations between the north and south parts-countries of Korea, the topic is crucial for understanding that Russia is likely to support the unification of the two states. In a bid to comprehend the genesis of the conflict, the paper outlines the beginning of the conflict and traces its main episodes. In this regard, the subject plays a significant role by highlighting the emergence and evolution of a long-running conflict of global magnitude. Its significance is evident in the role the topic plays in following the chronology of events surrounding the international war in the region.
According to the paper, Joo considers that the Northeast power-sharing the 17-KM border with North Korea forces Russia to pay keen attention to what takes place in the country. Outlining the state of affairs, the author is convinced that the future of North Korea is of great significance to Russia. Moreover, the geostrategic value of the peninsula and the alliance between the United States and South Korea are of particular concern. Joo also asserts that although Russia professes support for the Korean unification, certain caveats are discerned. Based on the analysis of the caveats, the author concludes that Russia cannot be considered being positive in supporting the unification of the South and North Korean countries. The primary reason is that any unification is likely to lean toward the interests of South Korea. Thus, Russia fears that Korea will take the German unification model, and the South will absorb the North. However, Joo believes that the relations between the United States and Russia would be a critical factor in the unification of the Korean countries. The assessment of various caveats leads the author to present his major argument that Russia will oppose any unification if it is modeled on the dominant power’s terms. Secondly, the author argues that Russia supports the prevailing status; thus, it will align with the North given its de facto nuclear power status owing to the absence of a viable option.
In the author’s point of view, Russia cannot be enthusiastic about the possibility of the two countries becoming unified. He turns to comments given by Putin in late November 2013 that indicated that the Six-Party Talks ought to resume in the absence of required preconditions. According to the Russian leader, unification should be a natural development, devoid of any pressure from any quarter. In particular, Putin underscored the need for peace and voluntary participation of the two countries. Such expectations are among the factors that some observers, including Joo, cite as evidence of the anti-unification position of Russia. If Russia supported the unification efforts entirely and sincerely, it would set attainable conditions.
The crisis between Russia and Korea along the latter country’s eastern border has lasted for decades. Often, the tension rises and falls on many occasions and in the process push the Korean peninsula to the brink of fighting. The sinking of the Cheonan corvette of South Korea in 2010 is one of the recent events that characterize the conflict. Based on the initial probe, North Korea was responsible for the affront. Ensuing reactions sucked into not only the Korean nations but also the major world’s powers such as China, the United States, and Russia. In such a manner, the problem of the Korean peninsula has become both a regional and international concern. At the international level, the conflict is seen as a measure of might between the US and China.
Tracking the times of the Soviet Union affirms the view that the position on the unification is muddled in controversies that are difficult to comprehend. In the era, the primary concerns of the country were security and stability in the Far East. Thus, the union preferred to maintain the prevailing state of affairs given that such a state would not disrupt the order Perhaps, Russia expected that North Korea was likely to suffer the same fate that befell the Soviet Union and most countries of Eastern Europe. Hence, it would be logical for Russia to anticipate the unification of Korea. As a result, Russia foresaw the unification of the two countries to be about to occur.
In 2000, Russia reproached North Korea; this event marked a shift in the initially adopted approach. The implication is that Russia has often considered the Korean unification with a divided focus. Nevertheless, a deeper analysis shows that it is not supportive of the unity of the two states.
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Class structure aligns with the view that international behavior reflects the division of countries into classes. World’s powerful states such as China, the United States, Russia, and the like are always looking forward to ways of dominating other countries deemed to be of a lower status. Thus, it is not surprising that Russia feels pressured to be in charge of its neighboring states, including both North and South Korea. According to the author, since as early as the 20th century, Russia had taken a keen interest in the Korean peninsula. The interest meant that Russia engaged in the competition with the United States, China, and Japan over the dominance in the region. The imperial tendencies of Russia and Japan became resulted in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 – 1905. After five decades, Russia again fought in the Korean war of 1950 – 1953, even though its participation was only clandestine. The class structure resulted in the Cold War as the world’s major powers tussled over the control over other states. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union attempted to sustain North Korea as a communist state. The Soviet Union provided the state with both military and economic aid. When the Soviet Union crumbled, Russia built cordial relations with the South, leaving the North in the cold. However, the author observes that Vladimir Putin has often tried to sustain a neutral stance on the matters that concerned the two neighboring countries.
It has been argued that the entry of Russia as a neutral player in the Korean peninsula conflict intended to isolate the United States. In particular, observers have indicated that Russia was trying to disrupt the U.S. incursion into the region rather than pursuing a genuine solution to the dispute. Through such efforts, the United States would not dominate in its attempts under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council to intervene.
The way the position of Russia has been changing from time to time, based on the leader of the country, is of particular interest. During the leadership of Gorbachev, West Germany was allowed to absorb East Germany. Where the northern part of Korea collapsed at the same time, perhaps Gorbachev might have left the South to take the North without any deliberation. The author also indicates that under the leadership of Yeltsin, Russia would have welcomed the unification of the countries without any hesitation. In turn, unlike Yeltsin, who encouraged soft diplomacy, the Putin regime is grounded on the heavy-handedness as evidenced in its decision to annex Crimea in 2014 using raw force.
As it was mentioned above, Joo was interested in establishing whether Russia would support the possible unification of Korea or not. The author refers to the initial years of Putin’s leadership, which tried to create an image of a peacemaker on the Korean peninsula. The Russian president began the implementation of the unification idea by normalizing relations between Moscow and Pyongyang. Thus, it was not surprising that the Russian leader began mediating the peace talks between the two countries. In the pursuit of the objective, he relied on pragmatism, realism, and balance. As a result, it is discerned that Russia’s approach has been neutral since the time Putin came into power. Despite portraying a neutral stance, which did not alienate Seoul, Pyongyang was not convinced. Perhaps, the inability to influence North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions is the most important contributing factor. The diplomatic ingenuity on the part of Russia meant that it could not progress as anticipated.
One of the caveats that the author identifies is that the Putin leadership would support the unification of the Korean countries as long as the process is peaceful. The process must also be gradual without any intervention from external forces. Russia also anticipates that Pyongyang and Seoul must negotiate as equal players. Further afield, Russia holds the view that, for it to support the unification, the resulting unified country must be friendly. Taking an informed analysis of the above caveats, it is held that in fact, Russia does not support the unification of the countries. From available indicators (as explored by the author), it appears that any unification is likely to be in the terms of South Korea; thus, Russia is unlikely to support it. The author observes that Russia has more reasons to oppose the unification efforts rather than to support the ones. It can also be concluded that the researcher of the article does not support North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.