MOSCOW, March 30 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow calls for restraint on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea had reportedly declared a “state of war” with South Korea, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
International media reported the North Korean statement, published on the country's state news agency KCNA, as reading that North Korea “is entering a state of war” with South Korea, and that all issues between the neighboring countries will be handled in accordance with wartime protocol. However, Russian media said that a faulty translation might have been to blame for this apparent uptick in bellicose rhetoric.
Moscow “is against any statements and steps leading to the escalation of tensions and expects all the sides to exercise maximum restraint and responsibility for the fate of the Korean Peninsula,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement adding that Russia maintains permanent contacts with partners in the six-party talks, which include the two Koreas, China, the United States, and Japan.
North and South Korea are not technically "at peace" since no peace treaty was signed following the Korean War in 1953. The Demilitarized Zone between the countries is the most heavily armed border in the world.
On March 11, South Korea and the United States began annual large-scale military exercises, codenamed Key Resolve. The drills involve 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 US troops.
Prior to the exercises, Pyongyang threatened the United States with a preemptive nuclear strike amid warnings that it plans to terminate the Korean War Armistice Agreement.
It warned of retaliatory countermeasures if the United States and South Korea went ahead with the drills.
The United States on Thursday dispatched two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers on an “extended deterrence” practice run over South Korea.
US officials said the exercise should serve “to demonstrate very clearly the resolve of the United States to deter against aggression on the Korean Peninsula.”
North Korea responded on Friday by placing its strategic rocket forces on standby to strike US and South Korean targets.
Alexei Pushkov, the head of the State Duma committee for international affairs, said on Saturday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hardly wants any war.
“North Korea’s threats are meant to send a signal to the United States to leave it alone but if it overplays its hand, no one will be able to protect it… Young Kim Jong-un hardly wants war, he has a beautiful wife and big plans. He wants to preserve his country and power but is playing a dangerous game,” Pushkov wrote on his Twitter.
Updated with Alexei Pushkov's comments.