Russia Increases Economic Support For North Korea As China Backs Away

Thursday, October 5, 2017
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
ZeroHedge.com
Oct 5, 2017

Over the past two months, China, North Korea’s economic benefactor and formally the source of 90% of its foreign trade, has been withdrawing financial support, ostensibly under the auspices of US sanctions, as Communist Party leaders try to rein in the North’s nuclear program to appease the US and prevent a potentially destabilizing conflict on its border – a development that would be particularly unwelcome during the Communist Party’s upcoming national congress.

As we reported earlier this week, North Korea’s thriving black-market economy (the county earns hundreds of millions of dollars a year from illegal weapons sales, along with other illicit activities rumored to include counterfeiting of US dollars and the manufacture of methamphetamine) has helped blunt the economic impact of UN sanctions meant to reduce the country’s legitimate exports by 90%.

Last month, China ordered North Korean businesses operating in the country to close, and asked its banks to stop doing business with North Korean businesses and individuals in accordance with the latest round of UN Security Council sanctions.

But as China withdraws, Reuters reports that Russia, which shares a small border with North Korea along the country’s eastern flank, is quietly stepping in to offer economic support for its restive neighbor, even after declining to use its veto power to kill UN sanctions against the rogue state.

Russia’s reasoning is simple: If the North Korean regime falls, more US troops could deploy near Russia’s eastern border – an eventuality that Moscow would like to avoid, given the NATO buildup in Europe.

Though Moscow wants to try to improve battered U.S.-Russia relations in the increasingly slim hope of relief from Western sanctions over Ukraine, it remains strongly opposed to what it sees as Washington’s meddling in other countries’ affairs, according to Russian diplomats and analysts familiar with the Kremlin’s thinking.

Russia is already angry about a build-up of U.S.-led NATO forces on its western borders in Europe and does not want any replication on its Asian flank, the sources added.

Yet while Russia has an interest in protecting North Korea, which started life as a Soviet satellite state, it is not giving Pyongyang a free pass: it backed tougher United Nations sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear tests last month.

The Rest…HERE

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