Kim Jong Un’s pursuit of increasingly advanced nuclear weapons and ballistic missile platforms has not only led to military tensions on and around the Korean peninsula, but continued diplomatic tensions within international bodies like the United Nations. The United States, which has taken on the primary role in enforcing the UN resolutions barring Kim’s development of further nukes, has found itself pitted against two other military powers in the Pacific: China and Russia.
As SOFREP has discussed in the past, both Russia and China have a vested interest in maintaining a stable North Korea, as the humanitarian fallout of open war on the peninsula would undoubtedly result in porous borders and a mass exodus of millions of people seeking a better life beyond the oppressive regime’s boundaries. Russia, as well, sees North Korean markets, particular the third party market created by visitors from the few other nations with friendly ties to Kim’s state like China and Malaysia, as a valuable source of revenue for the struggling Russian economy. In short, Russia and China each have clearly defined interests in keeping Kim comfortable and in power… but that’s not all that’s at play here.
While China and Russia would likely continue to throw their thinly veiled support behind North Korea in global platforms like the UN without American interventionalism manifesting in the form of aircraft carriers, the stakes for both of these nations became higher when it was America that took a stand against Kim’s behavior.
China’s claims over the majority of the South China Sea are continually called into question by America’s Navy, as U.S. ships conduct freedom of navigation operations through contested waters and couple those trips with diplomatic pressure and increasing its alliances with local nations like Vietnam, who China bullied out of oil platforms within the past few months over claims of sovereignty over the waters just beyond Vietnam’s shores.