All of a sudden, North Korea is cozying up to Russia. When Pyongyang conducted its latest missile launch, the missile landed near the Pacific coast of Russia but it has, apparently, not had any adverse effect on the relationship between the two. Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the actions and termed it as "dangerous," and has also, at the same time, cautioned others to desist from intimidating North Korea. The obvious reference is to the United States and its allies.

Russia wants to cement its relation with North Korea and the cargo-passenger ferry service will connect the two countries by a waterway.

On the face of it, the intention is to improve prospects for tourism but, this appears to be an eyewash and might be a red herring to divert the attention of the Americans from more important matters.

Will this ferry service boost tourism?

CNN reports that the first ever ferry service between North Korea and Russia will be from the port city of Rason up to Vladivostok. The ferry is equipped with facilities for tourists and the service will, at present, be a weekly cargo-cum-passenger service. The number of passengers for the maiden voyage was 40 and they are believed to be Russian citizens on their way back from North Korea along with Chinese tourists. The return journey from Vladivostok is scheduled for May 19 and most of the passengers at that time would be Chinese tourists.

A question is bound to arise about the economics and profitability when the frequency of trips would be once a week and the number of passengers would not even be 50. Obviously, there are other factors at work and the United States and its allies in the region must remain alert.

The U.S. must not be misled

North Korea is getting isolated in the international scenario and is clutching at every straw to keep its head above the water.

Russia is one of the few countries that still maintains diplomatic relations with it because of its defiant attitude towards the United States.

Like any other country, Russia is equally worried about the nuclear programs of North Korea and is concerned with its missiles and launch failures. It does not want Pyongyang to have any nuclear missiles but, even if it does, it would not be a problem because it would never have Russia in its sights so it wants to play along with North Korea and observe the reactions of the Americans.

Incidentally, there could be more to the ferry service than meets the eye. The need to have a ferry for a handful of tourists of Russian and Chinese origin does not appear to be a lucrative business proposition for either Russia or North Korea and it would be safe to presume that they have a different agenda that is not readily visible.