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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
December 7, 2017

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
“Trump is Dangerous and More Unpredictable than Kim Jong-un”, Says Kremlin Propagandist

Screen grab from Vesti nedeli with Dmitry Kiselyov showing a North Korean missile firing with the caption "covers the USA". 

There have been many signs of “buyers’ remorse” from the Kremlin over US President Donald Trump, but perhaps the starkest pronouncement has come from top Kremlin propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov – in typical over-the-top style –claiming that Trump is "dangerous" and "more unpredictable" than North Korea's despotic leader Kim Jong-un.

On his talk show last Sunday, December 3, Kiselyov almost gloated as he reported on North Korea's latest ballistic missile test November 30 that can "cover the US", as he put it, using that phrase as the poster for this segment.

In a context of decades of tensions, Trump has made increasingly insulting tweets against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and has said the U.S. "would have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," says Kiselyov – leaving out the context, which was that the US would retaliate if Pyongyang first launched a nuclear weapon at the US.

Meanwhile, North Korea keeps increasing its missile arsenal despite UN and U.S. sanctions.

In a UN speech, Trump called North Korean leader "a sick puppy," says Kiselyov, but even if this is true, now "the 'sick puppy' has driven the U.S. into a corner.”

"There's a sensation that Trump's tweets suddenly stopped -- or their influence on the public stopped," said Kiselyov. And Kim could care less about Trump's insults, adds Kiselyov.

Kiselyov has no choice to build up his weapons, says Kiselyov, given the experience of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who closed his nuclear program under American pressure and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, who renounced weapons of mass destruction.

"America doesn't keep its word,” he complains. Therefore, "For better or worse, North Korea's missiles deter everyone," says Kiselyov pragmatically.

"Is Trump dangerous?" asks Kiselyov, reviewing Trump’s statements about North Krea. "Yes, he is," he decides.

First, because he is "more inclined than Kim to launch war missiles," recalling Trump's order to fire Tomahawks in Syria after seeing photos of victims of chemical warfare.

Second, the US has no strategy for North Korea, "no effective decisions and no effective lines," says Kiselyov. Sanctions “simply don't work."

Third, the U.S. "is not inclined to coordinate its actions with other serious actors," frets Kiselyov.

The U.S. merely wants China to put more pressure on North Korea, but won't listen to Chinese -- or Russian -- proposals, such as to freeze maneuvers, he says.

Fourth, there is the "rift" between U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. President Donald Trump, noting that "journalists have already dismissed him" with reports that he was fired, and the State Department "even admits the disagreements" with the White House.

“I never recall such a thing,” marvels Kiselyov.

This makes US actions "even more unpredictable," says Kiselyov. Experts already estimate a "10-15 % chance" of war with North Korea which is "a great deal,” he warns.

Kiselyov also ran a special report by correspondent Alexey Petrov from South Korea saying tensions were mounting but residents weren't panicking.

Russian Korea expert Prof. Andrei Lankov in Seoul said that North Korea had to guarantee its own security by ensuring the ability to launch a nuclear missile in any direction. He said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wasn't irrational, as the West often portrays him, but in fact "quite rational" if brutal.

Now that North Korean missiles may reach US territory, the US has called for "economic strangulation,” says Petrov. The South Korean leadership hopes to deter the Trump administration from unilateral actions, he concluded.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

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