MOSCOW, Russia — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday of a “major conflict” looming on the Korean Peninsula, calling for talks to alleviate the crisis after Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan this week.
“The problems in the region will only be solved via direct dialogue between all concerned parties, without preconditions,” Putin said.
“Threats, pressure and insulting and militant rhetoric are a dead end,” a statement from his office said, adding that heaping additional pressure on North Korea in a bid to curb its nuclear program was “wrong and futile.”
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest point in years after a series of missile tests by Pyongyang.
Early on Tuesday, the reclusive state fired an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 over Japan, prompting US President Donald Trump to insist that “all options” were on the table in an implied threat of preemptive military action.
The UN Security Council denounced North Korea’s latest missile test, unanimously demanding that Pyongyang halt the program.
US heavy bombers and stealth jet fighters took part in a joint live fire drill in South Korea on Thursday, intended as a show of force against the North, Seoul said.
Putin said he feared the peninsula was “on the verge of a major conflict” and called for all sides to sign up to a mediation program drawn up by Moscow and Beijing.
He echoed comments by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who in a Wednesday telephone call with US counterpart Rex Tillerson “underscored… the need to refrain from any military steps that could have unpredictable consequences.”
The Russia-China plan involves a mutual pause in missile tests by North Korea and joint South Korean-US military exercises by Seoul.