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Can Moscow stop North Korea's nuclear march?

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MOSCOW – After North Korea's nuclear bomb test on Monday, US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly noted hopefully that Pyongyang's actions had drawn "very strong statements" of condemnation from its traditional friends China and Russia.

Mr. Kelly suggested they might help in forging a unified response.

But in Moscow, where North Korea's oddball Stalinist dynasty was born and and nurtured for decades, officials appear perplexed and even scared over the Pyongyang regime's increasingly wayward behavior.

After years of assailing the George W. Bush administration for failing to appreciate Russia's special, Soviet-era relationship with "rogue" states like North Korea, the collective response of Moscow's diplomatic community right now looks like a shrug of helplessness.

"If you'd asked me even three years ago, I would say Russia has some leverage with Pyongyang. But not today," says Yevgeny Bazhanov, vice rector of the official Diplomatic Academy in Moscow, which trains Russian diplomats.


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