In an interview on Wednesday, President Donald Trump accused Russia of undermining the international effort to force North Korea to relinquish its pursuit of nuclear weapons and more advanced ballistic missile platforms.

Over months of escalating tensions between Kim Jong Un’s aggressive North Korean regime and a U.S.-led coalition of nations bent on seeing their nuclear ambitions neutered, Russia and China have both maintained a questionable stance. China, North Korea’s primary ally, accounts for some 90 percent of North Korea’s import and export markets, making them the one nation with enough leverage to force change within Kim’s nation. Despite claims that China isn’t doing all that it can to dissuade Kim, the nation has taken steps to force Kim’s hand alongside the international community, to include imposing sanctions mandated by the United Nations and even voting in favor of stricter measures.

According to President Trump, however, Russia’s push to improve relations with North Korea that has coincided with other nations moving to isolate the rogue state economically has undermined the efforts of the international community, even including North Korea’s ally, China.

“Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea,” Trump said during an Oval Office interview with Reuters. “What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin has publicly called for an end to economic sanctions imposed on North Korea by the United States and United Nations respectively; a position that likely stems from continuing sanctions imposed on his own nation after the military annexation of Crimea. Those sanctions, many believe, are to blame for the stagnating Russian economy, which has proven a hindrance to Putin’s military expansion and modernization efforts.

Trump declined to address remarks made last week that seemed to insinuate that he had already been in contact with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, though since those comments were released to the media, he’s contested the way in which they were presented. The president did, however, say that he’d be willing to speak to Kim, though he didn’t seem optimistic about how the discussion would go.

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“I’d sit down, but I’m not sure that sitting down will solve the problem,” he said. “I’m not sure that talks will lead to anything meaningful. They’ve talked for 25 years and they’ve taken advantage of our presidents, of our previous presidents.”

The American President, who has called diplomatic efforts with North Korea a waste of time in the past, did acknowledge that tensions with North Korea could be resolved “in a peaceful way, but it’s very possible that it can’t.” He went on to add that the United States has ordered more missile defense.

Trump didn’t place all of the blame for the current state of relations with North Korea on Russia, however. He also made it clear that, in his eyes, it was the inaction of previous presidents, particularly Barrack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, that led to the state of things today.

“I guess they all realized they’re going to have to leave it to a president that scored the highest on tests,” he joked.

 

Image courtesy of the Associated Press