That plan was quickly sidelined when Kim and Trump gushed over each other. And when Moscow and Beijing detected Pyongyang’s intent to establish its own security relationship with the United States, the great powers sprung into action.

China was more successful. Beijing brought Kim twice to China for meetings with Xi Jinping, general secretary of the communist party of China, to reaffirm his preference for a phased approach. This left Putin dangerously close to being irrelevant at this historic moment, especially after his repeated efforts to meet with Kim ahead of the Trump meeting were rebuffed.

This left the Kremlin with no choice but to dispatch Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Pyongyang in a somewhat desperate attempt to reinsert Russia into the negotiating process.

But North Korea would not confirm Lavrov’s meeting with Kim until the last minute. And a brilliant plan to arrange for a trilateral meeting for Putin and China’s leader with Kim at the SCOO summit in China on June 9-10, which would have upstaged the meeting with Trump in Singapore, ultimately fizzled.

It is not so much that Moscow wants U.S. diplomacy with North Korea to fail. Rather, it does not want it to succeed without Russia. To that end, Putin and Lavrov have been careful not to publicly undermine U.S. efforts, despite Trump’s concerns to the contrary.

After all, Moscow is betting that should Trump’s rendezvous with Kim be declared “a historic success,” nothing in the world will stop Trump from rushing into another “historic summit” with Putin.

Vladimir Frolov is a Russian columnist and politcal analyst. The views expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily relfedt the position of The Moscow Times.