Owing to the small matter of an arrest warrant from the International Court of Justice, says Le Monde, Vladimir Putin was unable to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) meeting in Johannesburg last month, or the G20 summit in New Delhi last week. Instead, the Russian president has had to make do with a tête-à-tête with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, in a remote cosmodrome in Russia’s far east. In his hour of need, the “master of Moscow” has turned to a country best summed up as an arsenal housed in a barracks governed by a dictatorship. “You take your summit where you can get it.”
This megalomaniac meet-up makes sense in practical terms: North Korea needs food aid, foreign currency and technological advice; Russia wants guns and ammo. But seeking help from the hermit kingdom is still a sign of Putin’s desperation. The reliability of Pyongyang’s munitions is “questionable”: the bombardment of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in 2010 was memorable for the high failure rate of North Korean shells. What the meeting demonstrates is the return of a “violently anti-Western axis”, armed to the teeth with nukes. Putin’s visit to Iran in 2022, just as the Islamist state relaunched its nuclear programme, was already a “foray by Moscow beyond the international consensus” on non-proliferation. Normalising North Korea’s military adventurism has “sounded a new alarm”. With the world fragmenting as a result of the Ukraine war, the fight against nuclear proliferation is fast becoming a “collateral victim”.
🤤🦀 The two tyrants took the opportunity to dine in style, says Nicola Smith in The Daily Telegraph. Their rich meal started with Kamchatka crab dumplings, White Amur fish soup and a sorbet made from the berries of sea buckthorn, a deciduous shrub. The main course was a choice of sturgeon or an entrecôte of marbled beef, followed by a calorific dessert of red bilberries with pine nuts and condensed milk. It was all washed down with red and white wines from the Divnomorskoe manor in southern Russia.