In a post on the Kremlin’s website on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin restated his country’s position that further pressure against the North Korean regime is likely to provoke a devastating war on the Korean Peninsula.
“In Russia’s opinion, the calculation that it is possible to halt North Korea’s nuclear missile programs exclusively by putting pressure on Pyongyang is erroneous and futile,” Putin wrote.
“It is essential to resolve the region’s problems through direct dialogue involving all sides without advancing any preconditions,” he argued. “Provocations, pressure and bellicose and offensive rhetoric is the road to nowhere.”
Putin warned that North Korea and the United States are “balanced on the verge of a large-scale conflict.”
The Russian leader was presumably responding to U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration that “all options are on the table” and “talking is not the answer.”
CNN notes Putin’s article was published by the Kremlin just hours after the United States and South Korea conducted a mock bombing run that North Korea denounced as a “rash” and a “wild military act.” North Korean media also continues to imply that this week’s provocative missile launch over Japanese territory was but the “first military operation in the Pacific,” with more to come.
This prompted Japan to begin conducting regular air-raid and emergency evacuation drills in several cities. For that matter, President Putin has ordered Russians living near the North Korean border to move away.
The Sydney Morning Herald notes that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who delivered a message similar to Putin’s earlier this week, adjusted his position slightly during an address to students in Moscow when he said, “If we want to avoid a war, the first step must be taken by the side that is more intelligent and stronger,” in a clear reference to the United States.
Lavrov also suggested Russia will provide diplomatic assistance to avoid “such horrible developments.” The North Korean crisis happens to be heating up again at a moment of heightened diplomatic tension between Washington and Moscow, so it’s not clear how closely Russia will coordinate its North Korean diplomacy with the U.S.
Fox News found Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lining up solidly behind Trump.
“If North Korea were to attack the United States, as they often threaten to do, there would be a conflict which would be a suicide note from North Korea’s point of view. Kim Jong-un is playing a game of very, very dangerous brinkmanship,” Turnbull said, referring to North Korea’s dictator.