July 05, 2017 13:00
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow on Monday and voiced their opposition to the deployment of a THAAD anti-missile battery in South Korea. Only a day later, North Korea launched what it said was an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking some parts of the U.S.
China and Russia are understandably wary of the U.S.' massive military presence on their doorstep, but the THAAD battery is designed solely to protect U.S. troops stationed in South Korea as well as South Koreans from a North Korean missile attack. Its deployment was based solely on the sovereign decision of South Korea.
But for some reason China and Russia have no interest in these facts, and are expected to try and bully President Moon Jae-in at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany this weekend into reversing the deployment.
China and Russia still think that the grim status quo on the Korean Peninsula is better than the removal of their buffer state, even if North Korea ends up arming itself with nuclear weapons. This is why they have been so passive in taking part in UN sanctions against the North.
North Korea has of course used this to its advantage and raced ahead to develop nuclear weapons and missiles and now it claims to have succeeded in developing an ICBM. If China and Russia continue to carp over something as harmless to their own ambitions as the THAAD battery, they should not be surprised if South Korea decides one day to develop its own nuclear weapons.
Moon met with U.S. lawmakers during his recent visit to Washington and told them he has no intention to "reverse" the deployment of THAAD. If he tells a different story to Putin and Xi during the G20 Summit, it could have a devastating effect on the alliance with Washington. Moon needs to be calm and confident in explaining the need for the THAAD battery and urge Russia and China to get on board with restraining the North instead.
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