Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday September 14, 2023
When Two Tyrants Collide: Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin’s Shadowy Meeting in Vladivostok
In the ever-evolving global political landscape, a recent summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok has raised eyebrows and stoked curiosity. The gathering occurred against the backdrop of Vladimir Putin’s contentious war in Ukraine, a conflict that has drawn widespread condemnation and international sanctions. Although the official agenda for the summit revolved around economic cooperation and regional stability, the meeting has left us pondering the implications of two authoritarian leaders coming together.
Held at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, the summit symbolizes a convergence of interests between Kim and Putin, both of whom find themselves locked in confrontations with the United States. Even as North Korea’s missile tests have triggered global concerns, Kim’s visit to Russia was accompanied by missile launches, signalling the regime’s unwavering commitment to advancing its military capabilities. These actions cannot be dismissed lightly, as North Korea potentially possesses tens of millions of aging artillery shells and rockets based on Soviet designs—resources that could substantially bolster Russia’s efforts in Ukraine.
The prospect of a clandestine arms-for-resources arrangement between North Korea and Russia raises troubling questions about the international community’s ability to enforce sanctions effectively. Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has historically endorsed sanctions against North Korea. However, this summit casts a shadow over Russia’s commitment to these sanctions and underscores the daunting challenges of maintaining a united front against rogue states.
What adds an intriguing layer to this summit is the mutual admiration expressed by Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin for former U.S. President Donald Trump. Putin, while speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, characterized the legal cases against Trump as political vengeance and a testament to the corruption within American politics. He even suggested that Trump’s potential return to the presidency would be a positive development for Russia, particularly in the context of resolving the Ukraine crisis.
While it might be tempting to dismiss Putin’s remarks as mere rhetoric, the reality is that Trump’s presidency was marked by an unconventional affinity for strongman leaders, including Kim and Putin. Trump’s claims of having a personal rapport with Kim Jong-un, including declarations that they “fell in love” through letters, were met with skepticism and ridicule. Yet, Trump’s assertion that he maintains contact with Kim, as reported by journalist Maggie Haberman, adds a layer of intrigue to this already intricate web of relationships.
If there is indeed a covert channel of communication between Trump and Kim, the potential implications for U.S. foreign policy are profound. It raises questions about coordination (or the lack thereof) between Trump and his successor, President Joe Biden, concerning North Korea-related issues. This lack of coordination could hinder diplomatic efforts and exacerbate tensions in the region.
In a world where diplomacy and international norms are continually challenged, the meeting between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin serves as a stark reminder of the intricate complexities and inherent dangers of geopolitics. It underscores the pressing need for a cohesive international response to threats posed by rogue regimes and the importance of rigorously addressing potential sanctions violations.
As the world observes the unfolding drama involving Kim, Putin, and Trump, one fact remains clear: the pursuit of power and self-interest knows no bounds, and it is incumbent upon the international community to uphold the principles of peace, stability, and accountability in an ever-evolving global landscape. (AI)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro. If you’re creative, give illustration a try: