Missiles, security and diplomatic embarrassment behind Kim’s failed Moscow trip
Seoul (AsiaNews) - The North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un will not be in Moscow for the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The trip would have been the first opportunity for young leader to leave the country and meet with foreign heads of state and government. He rose to power in Pyongyang in 2012, after the death of his and "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il, and since then the dictator has not even visited China, North Korea’s historic ally.
The reason for the last minute refusal is unclear, since the same North Korean government had made it clear that Kim would attend the celebrations scheduled for next May 9 in the Russian capital. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, announced only that Kim "has decided to stay in Pyongyang. He changed his mind at the last minute due to unspecified "internal matters".
According to the South Korean press, among the reasons which prompted Kim to stay away is the lack of agreement on security measures demanded by Pyongyang. A source in the Korea Herald claims that North Korean leader would have required a particular deployment of forces for his person, impossible to be granted due to the presence of 30 other world leaders: "Russia could not give a special welcome to Kim. Who, by the way, it is not even the head of state ". In North Korea, in fact, the position of president is still assigned to the deceased Kim Il-sung (the grandfather of the current Kim in power).
Another case concerns a failed missiles contract, which Pyongyang had wanted to buy from the Kremlin. According to a local expert, Russia rejected the proposal "that would upset the strategic balance in the region and thus needs the consent of China and other neighbors. "
The last point on the list of speculation is the relationship between North Korea and China, which is in free fall since the changing of the guard in Pyongyang and Beijing. After decades of full support to the last still reigning Stalinist regime, in fact, in recent years the Land of the Dragon has taken its distance: It no longer grants credit to the government, it does not provide weapons and no longer defends the former ally at UN Security Council meetings. All this because of repeated nuclear tests carried out by the North without the authorization of the international community.
According to Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korean affairs at Dongguk University in Seoul, "it would have been very embarrassing for Kim to meet the President Xi Jinping for the first time in Moscow. The two do not speak and have not yet met, to do it in a foreign land for both would be a terrible setback".