Since it’s very inception, North Korea’s nuclear weapons-development program has primarily been about changing North Korea’s footing in the geopolitical theater. Kim Jong-un believes that having an arsenal of nuclear weapons will force states like the U.S. to approach his nation with more peer-like respect, as one of the few nuclear powers on the globe. Kim’s hunt for nukes has never been about using them as much as it’s been about being able to threaten their use, and to use those threats as leverage to improve trade and political relations between the world and his small nation, whose entire GDP makes up only a fifteenth of what the U.S. spends on defense alone.

And now, thanks to public posturing by Russia and China on North Korea’s behalf, they’ve seemingly adopted a new strategy that runs counter to their repeated threats of nuclear annihilation: playing the victim.

In public statements made over the course of the past few weeks, Russia has portrayed the developing situation on the Korean Peninsula as “international bullying,” blaming the United States for inciting the North Koreans with its military presence and accusing the American government of trying to intimidate the small nation.

“We need to act in a joined-up way, (and) strengthen the system of international guarantees with the help of international law and with the help of the U.N. Charter,” Putin said last week. “We need to return to dialogue with North Korea and stop scaring it and find ways to resolve these problems peacefully.”