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Understanding Kim Jong Un

NEW DELHI: What does North Korea’s mercurial leader Kim Jong Un want? His six-day visit to Russia’s eastern region and an audience with President Putin was by all accounts a success, going by Russian media reports. But it’s still not clear if Kim has agreed to sell ammunition to Russia in violation of sanctions.
Sanctions may not matter very much to him given that his country has been under international sanctions since 2006 for developing nuclear weapons and selling/transferring these to other countries. So the buzz is he is getting grain for his impoverished people in return for ammunition of all kinds Russia needs but more so artillery shells.
But Kim’s actions may conceal another purpose: to benefit from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by building closer ties to Moscow and of course China, and improve his country’s position on the Korean peninsula. It explains recent missile tests, displays of weaponry and threats against the West.
But Kim also knows that only an understanding with the West can help his poverty stricken country. But any deal with them risks undermining his own position. At the same time, China with its economy not doing well, is of limited help, and Russia’s economy lacks capacity. Yet these are the only countries he can turn to for help. It underscores Kim’s challenges and frustrations.

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