Russian President Vladimir Putin scolded the United States Monday in the wake of Saturday’s North Korean ballistic missile test and warned against “intimidating” North Korea.
North Korea launched a missile that flew 489 miles, reaching an altitude of 1,312 miles before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.
Putin said that Russia opposes nuclear proliferation.
“I would like to confirm that we are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear states, including through the Korean Peninsula,” Putin told reporters. “We are against it and consider it counterproductive, damaging, dangerous,” he said.
He also said Russia does not approve of North Korea’s conduct.
“This missile launch presented no threat to us, but it of course escalates this conflict and there is nothing good about that,” he said.
However, much of what came next seemed aimed at the United States.
“But at the same time, we understand that what we have observed in the world recently, and specifically flagrant violations of international law and incursions into the territory of foreign states, changes in regime, lead to such kinds of arms races,” said Putin, who opposed President Donald Trump’s missile strike on Syria after the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people.
Putin said nations need to stand down and talk their way out of the emerging crisis
“In this connection, we need to act in a joined-up way, (and) strengthen the system of international guarantees with the help of international law and with the help of the U.N. Charter,” said Putin. “We need to return to dialogue with North Korea and stop scaring it and find ways to resolve these problems peacefully.”
Putin contrasted what he called “the positive experience” of Russia’s talks with North Korea with those of Western nations that collapsed when North Korea refused to abandon its nuclear program.
“If you recall, there was a time when North Korea announced it was suspending this kind of (nuclear) program, but unfortunately certain participants in the negotiations process did not have enough patience. I think we need to return to this,” he said
North Korea said it will, in effect, do as it pleases.
“We will conduct ICBM tests anytime and anywhere in accordance with the decisions made by our central leadership,” said Ji Jae Ryong, North Korea’s ambassador to China.
However Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, told ABC’s This Week that “having a missile test is not the way to sit down with the president, because he’s absolutely not going to do it.”
One analyst said Putin continues to toy with the West.
“While Russia is concerned about North Korea and its missiles, it also sees North Korea as an opportunity to gain leverage with the West, the U.S. in particular,” said Matthew Chance, CNN’s Moscow correspondent.
“Russia doesn’t want North Korea to have nuclear weapons, but the response from officials in Moscow has been minimal because they know Russia isn’t one of Pyongyang’s targets,” he added.