Friday, December 8, 2017

Might Putin Be Tempted to Provoke a War in Korea to Save Himself from Olympic Shame?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 8 – The suggestion by US officials that American athletes may not go to the Olympiad in South Korea if military tensions on the peninsula rise raises a dangerous possibility: Vladimir Putin may very well be tempted to provoke such a war in order to save himself and his country from the shame of being banned from the competition.

            If a conflict appears or can be made to appear imminent and American athletes don’t go, then other countries are likely to follow and the games collapse, and thus the ban the International Olympic Committee has imposed on Russia will become as it were a moot point for many.

            One would like to believe that no world leader would stoop to such an action, but Vladimir Putin has routinely shown that he does not feel constrained by the rules and moral principles that limit most others; and an article that has appeared in Moscow today suggests that some there are thinking how a war in Korea could help Russia to be saved from “shame.”

            Entitled “A War Between the US and North Korea Would Save Russia from Shame” and written by Moscow commentator Sergey Aksyonov, it argues that Washington’s suggestions that the American team may not go to the Olympics in South Korea shows that the US is moving toward starting a war against Pyongyang (

            Blaming others for what one is planning to do or has even done, it must be stressed, has long been standard operating procedure under Vladimir Putin. Consequently, that is worrisome given Moscow’s influence in North Korea and its willingness to use brinksmanship and even aggression to get its way. 

                But more worrisome are the comments of one of the Moscow observers Aksyonov quotes.  Andrey Dmitriyev, a specialist on North Korea, says that despite what many think, “there is a chance that the US team will not go to Pyeongchang. And this will be an enormous reward” for the ban on Russia “because it will mean the disruption of the Olympiad.

                In that event, Dmitriyev continues, “namely Kim Chong Un today will take effective revenge on America for not allowing our team to take part in the Olympics. Vitaly Mutko and Vladimir Putin as events show cannot do anything to oppose the diktat of the international Olympic community. But [the North Korean leader] can!”

            But Putin may be tempted to encourage Kim in that direction, given Russia’s influence in North Korea. (See and 

            And consequently, an already dangerous situation may have become more dangerous still.

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