Moscow (AFP) – Russia on Thursday rejected a US call to cut ties with North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
“We see this negatively,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists in the Belarusian capital Minsk, Russian news agencies reported.
“We have repeatedly stated that the pressure of sanctions has been exhausted.”
He accused the United States of seeking to provoke Kim Jong-Un’s regime and demanded to know whether Washington was plotting to destroy the isolated country.
“It’s as if the recent actions of the United States are consciously directed to provoke Pyongyang towards other radical actions,” Russia’s top diplomat said.
“The Americans need to explain what they are aiming for. If they are looking for a reason to destroy North Korea, then they should say it straight and the American leadership should confirm it,” Lavrov was quoted as saying.
On Wednesday, Washington warned that North Korea’s leadership will be “utterly destroyed” if war breaks out as it called on countries to cut all diplomatic and trade ties with North Korea.
The latest threat came after North Korea tested its third ICBM, which it claimed was capable of striking anywhere in the United States.
“If war comes, make no mistake: the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said.
US President Donald Trump derided Kim as a “sick puppy” and threatened “major” new sanctions.
The Kremlin on Wednesday called the latest missile test a “provocative action” and appealed for calm on all sides.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has emerged as one of the most strident voices against punishing Pyongyang, insisting that further sanctions and threats are “useless” against a regime that feels cornered.
The United States earlier this year pressed for a full oil embargo on North Korea but dropped that demand following resistance from China and Russia.