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Awkward party guests

Vladimir Putin just invited Kim Jong Un to visit Russia. Really.

Officials in Moscow confirmed Friday that North Korean despot Kim Jong Un may attend ceremonies next year commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. It would be Kim’s first public foreign visit since coming to power in December 2011.

“Yes, such an invitation was sent,” confirmed Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, speaking to Reuters.

The news comes at a particularly conspicuous moment. On Friday, U.S. federal investigators accused North Korea of being behind the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. An escalation of cyber threats has compelled Sony to cancel the release of “The Interview,” a controversial comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco that depicts the two being sent on a mission to assassinate Kim.

The film’s plot riled Pyongyang — and, leaked e-mails revealed, Sony executives — and instigated one of the strangest geopolitical spats of the year, with many in the United States reacting angrily to Sony’s acquiescence in the face of North Korean “terror.”

Meanwhile, Putin has also been in the spotlight. On Thursday, he held a defiant three-hour-long year-end news conference, where he inveighed against the “external” forces that had conspired to undermine Russia’s economy. Sanctions imposed by the West, a slide in oil prices and a free-falling ruble have all made the end of 2014 a gloomy time for the Russian president.

But his invitation to Kim is not just meant as a rebuke of the U.S. and its allies. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union helped prop up the totalitarian regime in Pyongyang. Now Russia needs North Korean cooperation in its bid to build a pipeline that would boost gas exports to South Korea, Reuters reports. As is often the case in Moscow, energy policy usually outweighs other imperatives.

Russia celebrates the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II annually on May 9. This year, Putin marked the occasion in Crimea — the Black Sea region that had controversially been annexed from Ukraine just months before. Standing at the historic and strategic port of Sevastopol, Putin spoke at length of the Russian glory and sacrifice that inextricably bound Crimea to Moscow.

His ironclad nationalist rhetoric set the stage for the rest of the year. A pro-Russian separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine has led to thousands of deaths and deepened tensions between Russia and the West. Given that precedent, the presence of Kim among other dignitaries of the post-Soviet world could perhaps be less controversial.

© 2014, The Washington Post

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Sony Jim

Seriously has anyone considered three things:
(1) That South Korea see Russia as a trustworthy partner and excellent catalyst for peace in Asia. Against US pressure South Korea refused to sanction Russia choosing instead to elevate economic ties.

Russia and Korea have signaled interest in co-operation in building an upgraded rail network connecting both South Korea & North Korea for mutual benefit and linkages to a Eurasian rail system carrying exports to China, Central Asia, and Europe…

(2) That South Korea has built up a large fund specifically to handle some form of reunification because South Koreans would like to have peace and unity with their family in the North one day.

South Korea has concern that US participation has in no way aided reconciliation and has made itself inappropriate to broker talks with North Korea who only view America as a threat.

(3) That North Korea also see Russia as a reliable mediator and trust worthy partner and can assist in de-escalation of Korean conflict (whereas Americas role has only ever caused escalation…). Russia as a sign of goodwill recently forgave 90% of all North Korean debt (around US$10 billion) and encouraged the money be used instead to aid North Korean energy & infrastructure programs that could flow through to South Korea…

Unless America has something constructive to offer I think the world believes it high time they ‘shut the FK up’. Big loud mouthed yanks – Asia does not need such crass, uneducated, self-important, redneck buffoons in our neighborhood thank you.

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