North Korea and the U.S. Are on 'Brink of Large-Scale Conflict,' Putin Warns

Trump Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump meeting at the G20 Summit in Germany in July. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his view on the tensions in the Korean Peninsula, warning that the U.S. and North Korea were "on the brink of a large-scale conflict."

Putin penned a statement published on the Kremlin's website on Friday, ahead of a summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations in China next week.

"I have to say a few words about the situation on the Korean Peninsula, where tensions have grown recently and the situation is balancing on the brink of a large-scale conflict," he wrote.

The Russian president said that focusing solely on pressuring North Korea to give up its missile program is "misguided and futile."

Russia voted along with the rest of the U.N. Security Council to impose stricter sanctions on North Korea following the two missile test launches in July, even though Moscow rejects the claims, made by both North Korea and the U.S., that the rocket tested was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

"Russian experts put most of the blame for this escalating crisis on the United States. They are skeptical that North Korea would ever attack the United States, seeing such threats as just a bluff," Georgy Toloraya, Director of Korean Programs at the Institute of Economy at the Russian Academy of Science, wrote on 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.

Moscow has already told Washington that additional sanctions on North Korea could prove "counterproductive and dangerous." In his statement, Putin invited all parties to reject belligerent rhetoric and instead engage in dialogue.

"The region's problems should only be settled through a direct dialogue of all the parties concerned without any preconditions. Provocations, pressure and militarist and insulting rhetoric are a dead-end road," the Russian president wrote, apparently referencing incendiary statements made both by North Korea, which claims to have a plan to strike the U.S. territory of Guam, and President Donald Trump, who warned Pyongyang that its threats would be met with "fire and fury."

Russia's position is similar to China's, which also has backed U.N. sanctions against North Korea but has called for moderation from all parties involved. Russia and China, who both share a border with North Korea, are also both opposed to the U.S. carrying out joint military drills in South Korea.

Russia, which has repeatedly voiced concerns over the risk of a military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula, is also nervous about Japan's plan to increase its nuclear missile defense capabilities with the deployment of the land-based U.S. Aegis Ashore system.

Nonetheless, Moscow recently unnerved South Korea by flying Tupolev Tu-95 bombers too close to Seoul's airspace earlier this month.