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Russia's Foreign Ministry Blast Criticizes North, South And West In Dispute Over Training Exercises In Korean Peninsula

by Staff Reporter / Mar 07, 2016 07:18 PM EST
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during his annual news conference at the Russian Foreign Minister building on Jan. 26 in Moscow.
South Korean soldiers gesture to vehicles on the road leading to North Korea's Kaesong joint industrial complex in Paju on Aug. 21

The North Korean government made international headlines Monday when they threatened "pre-emptive military strikes" on the South in retaliation for joint military exercises with the US that took place at the border earlier that day.

"As the joint military exercises to be staged by the enemies are regarded as the most undisguised nuclear war drills aimed to infringe upon the sovereignty of [North Korea], its military counteraction will be more preemptive and offensive nuclear strike to cope with them," read the statement from the National Defense Commission of North Korea.

"We will launch an all-out offensive to decisively counter the US and its followers' hysterical nuclear war moves," added the female broadcaster on the state-run Korean Central News Agency who conveyed the message.

South Korean government spokesman Moon Sang Gyun quickly responded to the threat with more tough talk.

"If North Korea ignores our warning and makes provocations, our military will firmly and mercilessly respond to it," Moon told the BBC.

In the eyes of Russia's Foreign Ministry, there is more than enough fault to go around.

"The development of the situation on the Korean peninsula and around it is causing growing concern," read a ministry statement to the state-funded news organization RT.  

The agency appeared to excuse North Korean officials' angst regarding the military exercises, which feature 17,000 US soldiers and 300,000 South Korean troops, according to a report by National Public Radio. Though the training exercises are an annual event, this year the amount of military personnel was escalated to record numbers.

"Naturally, North Korea as a state, which is directly referred to as the object of such military activity, can have rational concerns for its security," the ministry's statement read. "Russia has repeatedly publicly declared its opposition to such manifestations of military and political pressure on Pyongyang."

But in a direct rebuke to North Korea's capital city, the Russian governmental organization called the response unreasonable and in direct opposition to international law.

"We consider the threatening statements to carry out some kind of 'preventive nuclear strikes' against their opponents absolutely unacceptable," the Foreign Ministry statement read.

"Pyongyang must realize that North Korea thereby definitively pits itself against the international community, providing international legal basis for the use of military force against it, in accordance with the right of states to self-defense written in the UN Charter."

The agency called for cautious action all around.

"[All parties must be careful] to prevent the situation from slipping to the point where an uncontrolled escalation of the conflict on the peninsula may begin," the statement read.

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