Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a press conference on the sidelines of the 9th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in the southeast city of Xiamen on Tuesday, September 5.

Posted September 05, 2017

Putin warns ‘hysteria’ over North Korea threatens ‘global catastrophe’

  • Putin thinks that sanctions could lead to large-scale human suffering
  • Putin, speaking after a BRICs summit in China, also warned against further ramping up military hysteria around North Korea

By Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear missile program would be counter-productive and said threats of military action could trigger “a global catastrophe.”

Putin, speaking after a BRICs summit in China, criticized U.S. diplomacy in the crisis and renewed his call for talks, saying Pyongyang would not halt its missile testing program until it felt secure.

“Russia condemns North Korea’s exercises, we consider that they are a provocation … (But) ramping up military hysteria will lead to nothing good. It could lead to a global catastrophe,” he told reporters.

“There’s no other path apart from a peaceful one.” Putin was speaking after South Korea said an agreement with the

United States to scrap a weight limit on its warheads would help it respond to the North Korea threat after Pyongyang conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test two days ago.

Russia, which shares a border with North Korea, has repeatedly joined China in calling for negotiations with Pyongyang, suggesting that the United States and South Korea halt all major war games in exchange for North Korea halting its testing program.

US approach ‘ridiculous’

While describing additional sanctions as “the road to nowhere”, Putin said Russia was prepared to discuss “some details” around the issue, without elaborating.

The Russian leader also lashed out at the United States, saying it was preposterous for Washington to ask for Moscow’s help with North Korea after sanctioning Russian companies whom U.S officials accused of violating North Korea sanctions.

“It’s ridiculous to put us on the same (sanctions) list as North Korea and then ask for our help in imposing sanctions on North Korea,” said Putin

“This is being done by people who mix up Australia with Austria,” he added.

The United States has floated the idea of requiring all countries to cut economic links with North Korea to try to strong-arm Pyongyang into changing its behavior.

In Moscow’s case, that would mean stopping using North Korean laborers, tens of thousands of whom work in Russia, and halting fuel supplies to Pyongyang. Russia has so far refused to contemplate doing either.

Putin on US diplomatic row: What do you expect from people who mix up Austria and Australia?

Will Vladimir Putin escalate the diplomatic tit-for-tat between Russia and the US? Maybe, maybe not, the Russian president told reporters in China, but he’s angry enough to lash out at the governing class in the United States over it. Putin acknowledged the American right to demand parity in facilities as well as personnel after Putin ordered reductions in both for US missions in Russia. However, he complained that it was done in “a clearly boorish manner,” and then suggested that one can’t expect much more than that from ignorant American hicks:

See Also: That time the Washington Post excused North Korea’s nuclear program

“That the Americans reduced the number of our diplomatic facilities – this is their right,” Putin told a news conference in the Chinese city of Xiamen, where he was attending a summit of major emerging economies.

“The only thing is that it was done in such a clearly boorish manner. That does not reflect well on our American partners. But it’s difficult to conduct a dialogue with people who confuse Austria and Australia. Nothing can be done about it. Probably such is the level of political culture of a certain part of the U.S. establishment.”

How far back does one have to go to get this reference? Putin’s not talking about Donald Trump here, or even Barack Obama, who once notoriously said, “I don’t know what the term is in Austrian.” No, Putin’s reaching all the way back to George W. Bush and a little-remembered faux pas from a decade ago. The Independent explains:

Mr Putin was referring to a 2007 gaffe by former US President George W Bush, when he thanked then-Australian leader John Howard for visiting Austrian troops in Iraq.

Loooooooong memories. However, that’s not likely to count much as a sick burn in the Trump administration, which made its feelings known about the Bush foreign-policy establishment during the Republican primaries. Rex Tillerson has been dismantling much of the leftover establishment since arriving at Foggy Bottom too.

Putin also seemed a little sensitive about Trump, too. He told reporters that he’s still optimistic about working more closely with Trump, which is why he’s going to wait before responding to the latest move from the US State Department. He might go to court to regain access to Russian diplomatic sites first:

“As for our buildings and facilities, this is an unprecedented thing,” Putin said. “This is a clear violation of Russia’s property rights. Therefore, for a start, I will order the Foreign Ministry to go to court – and let’s see just how efficient the much-praised U.S. judiciary is.”

Efficient? Well, not so much, but it’s usually just. The problem here is that American foreign-policy interests probably outweigh the Russian property rights in terms of the use of these facilities. A federal court might force the Trump administration to compensate Russia for lost property value, but may not want to be in position to order the White House to allow them to operate facilities, especially while Russia has forced the closure of American facilities in their country. Constitutionally, the executive has near-plenary power to deal with foreign nations.

As for Putin’s optimism about personal relations, don’t read too much into that either. He rebuked reporters for thinking of the two as married to each other, so words like “disappointed” don’t apply at all:

It’s “very naive” to ask whether he’s disappointed in the U.S. leader because “he’s not my bride, and I’m also not his bride or groom,” Putin told a news conference at the BRICS summit in Xiamen, China, on Tuesday. “Trump is guided by the national interests of his country, and I by mine. I very much hope that we will be able, as the current U.S. president has said, to reach some compromise in resolving bilateral and international problems.”

Well, there are at least a few reporters over here who disagree. At any rate, don’t expect to see any new actions in this diplomatic row for a while, but don’t be surprised if Putin eventually ups the ante again. Despite his derision at America’s political class, the main reason Putin’s complaining rather than acting is because the US is answering his provocations now rather than ignoring them.