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Situation on the Korean Peninsula. An Expert Discussion

On July 27, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion on the situation on the Korean Peninsula. The discussion was timed to coincide with the release of a Valdai Club report: “The Return of History: Cold War Lessons for Current International Crises”.

On July 27, 1953, the three-year Korean War came to an end. However, the countries failed to sign a full-fledged peace treaty. Despite the freezing of the conflict, the Korean Peninsula remains one of the instability points on the world map. The situation is aggravated by the active development of the DPRK’s nuclear programme, which the international community has been striving to prevent for many years. The Six-Party Talks did not yield the desired results. The situation on the Korean Peninsula today is among the key unresolved international crises, the resolution of which seems unlikely amid today’s rapidly changing international realities.

As in previous eras, today the search for an international political balance is accompanied by a bitter confrontation between the major powers and military blocs. The instruments of limitation and transparency in the military sphere were replaced by fierce rhetoric, a wide arsenal of means to weaken the opponent, and an increase in military activity in the immediate vicinity of the Russian borders. In this new round of hostility, the international system is rapidly returning to the contours of the bipolar confrontation of thirty years ago. The stereotypes of bloc thinking are being restored, mutual alienation is growing, and communication is switching to the language of containment. At the same time, there are gaps in the possession of crisis balancing tools, reflecting the partial loss of previous skills.

The history of international relations in the second half of the 20th century can rightly be called a laboratory of experience for domestic and Western foreign policy elites. It has absorbed a set of experiments in conflict management in the context of acute international crises. Their legacy is in demand in the search for mechanisms to prevent escalation in the face of hard balancing on the brink of a military clash. The purpose of the new Valdai Club report is to update the lessons of the Cold War for the current international situation, including the example of the Korean crisis.

Will the DPRK and the Republic of Korea be able to conclude a long-awaited peace agreement in the foreseeable future? How can the international community promote a détente between the two countries? How important are international political crises from a historical point of view? What scenarios for resolving crises can be used against the backdrop of growing international conflict? Participants of the discussion answered these and other questions.

Speakers:

  • Gleb Ivashentsov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Korea (2005–2009), Vice President of RIAC
  • Andrey Kulik, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Korea
  • Ilya Dyachkov, Associate Professor at the Department of Japanese, Korean, Indonesian and Mongolian Languages, MGIMO, Russian Foreign Ministry, RIAC expert
  • Gu Ho Eom, Director of Asia-Pacific Center, Professor of Graduate School of International Studies at Hanyang University.
Moderator:
  • Andrey Sushentsov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations, MGIMO (co-author of the report).