June 6, 2018

As the Trump-Kim summit nears, little attention has been given to how the Kremlin views the situation. But Russia has a great deal at stake, as both a neighbor and a patron of North Korea.

It is not a coincidence that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov just made a rare visit to Pyongyang, only days before Kim Jong-un's scheduled sit-down with President Trump. As the Singapore summit draws near, Russia is increasingly showing concern that the meeting might not bear fruit. Should peace break out on the Korean Peninsula, Russia stands to gain enormously. Moscow has plans to extend the Trans-Siberian Railway through North Korea to Seoul, South Korea, thus creating a direct rail link between the Far East and Europe. Similar ideas for energy infrastructure have been stalled for decades by regional instability. But if the talks blow up, Russian analysts say, it could bring the United States and North Korea to the brink of real war – in Russia's backyard – more surely than if no peace attempt had been made. “Trump is unpredictable; Kim is unpredictable. Yet huge expectations have been invested in this summit,” says Vladimir Kolotov, a Far East expert at St. Petersburg State University. “If this meeting fails, the region and, indeed, the whole world will suddenly become a much more dangerous place.”