Imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear missile programme would be counterproductive and threats of military action could trigger “a global catastrophe”, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.
Putin, speaking on Tuesday after a BRICS summit in Xiamen, China, also criticised US diplomacy in the crisis and renewed his call for talks, saying North Korea would not halt its missile testing programme until it felt secure.
“Russia condemns North Korea’s exercises, we consider that they are a provocation … [But] ramping up military hysteria will lead to nothing good. It could lead to a global catastrophe,” Putin said.
“There’s no other path apart from a peaceful one.”
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said on Monday that North Korea’s leadership is “begging for war” as she called on the body’s Security Council to impose tougher measures against the country following its most powerful nuclear test to date.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the North’s state-run agency, hailed Sunday’s test, saying it “marked a very significant occasion in attaining the final goal of completing the state nuclear force”.
Putin also criticised the US, saying it was preposterous for Washington to ask for Moscow’s help with Pyongyang after sanctioning Russian companies whom US officials accused of violating North Korea sanctions.
“It’s ridiculous to put us on the same [sanctions] list as North Korea and then ask for our help in imposing sanctions on North Korea,” said Putin.
“This is being done by people who mix up Australia with Austria.”
Putin was speaking after South Korea said an agreement with the US to scrap a weight limit on its warheads would help it respond to the North Korea threat after North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test.
Russia, which shares a border with North Korea, has repeatedly joined China in calling for negotiations with North Korea, suggesting that the US and South Korea halt all major war games in exchange for North Korea halting its testing programme.
While describing additional sanctions as “the road to nowhere”, Putin said Russia was prepared to discuss “some details” around the issue, without elaborating.
Meanwhile, Japanese politicians have demanded tougher UN sanctions on North Korea.
A resolution by Japan’s parliamentary committee on Monday condemned the North Korean nuclear test, and urged the government to take leadership in pushing for tougher punishment against the country.
Taro Kono, Japan’s foreign minister, it was time to increase pressure on North Korea and eliminate loopholes that allow some countries to continue trading with the country.