Russia condemns ‘unprecedented’ US-South Korea war-games for pressuring Pyongyang

File photo: U.S. and South Korean marines participate in a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang, South Korea © Kim Hong-Ji
Large-scale defense drills being conducted by the US and South Korea are an alarming attempt to put military and political pressure on North Korea, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, while also criticizing Pyongyang’s reaction to the exercise.

“The development of the situation on the Korean peninsula and around it is causing growing concern,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday. 

Despite being pre-planned, the US-South Korean exercise is “unprecedented in its scale, and the number and types of weaponry being employed,” it stressed.

On Monday, some 15,000 American troops and 300,000 South Korean servicemen commenced the annual drill, which is aimed at testing the militaries’ readiness to counter a North Korean threat.

The military drills caused outrage in Pyongyang, however, which described the exercises as “nuclear war moves” and threatened its rivals with “pre-emptive nuclear strikes.”

“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,” Moscow stressed. “Russia has repeatedly publicly declared its opposition to such manifestations of military and political pressure on Pyongyang,” it added.

However, the Foreign Ministry also condemned North Korea for its reaction to the drills, which “can’t be considered valid.”

“We consider the threatening statements to carry out some kind of ‘preventive nuclear strikes’ against their opponents absolutely unacceptable. 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,” it said.h

Moscow also called on all parties involved to show restraint in order “to prevent the situation from slipping to the point where an uncontrolled escalation of the conflict on the peninsula may begin.”

READ MORE: S.Korea, US will rehearse invasion of N.Korea in record-breaking joint military drills

Tensions began mounting on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea conducted a nuclear test on January 6 and launched a satellite on February 7 using a rocket, which critics say it is developing to eventually carry a nuclear warhead.

Pyongyang’s actions have prompted the UN Security Council to issue a resolution and impose unprecedentedly harsh sanctions.

North Korea insists that it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself from the US and its regional allies, and that it is rightfully pursuing peaceful space exploration by launching satellites.