Russia Warns U.S. and Japan Military Drills Will 'Increase Tension' With North Korea

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General Valery Gerasimov (left), chief of the general staff of Russia's armed forces, shakes hands with Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera (right) during their meeting at the defense ministry in Tokyo, December 11. Reuters

Russian military chief General Valery Gerasimov warned Japan on Monday that military exercises the U.S. is conducting around the Korean Peninsula could heighten tension with North Korea in the region.

While visiting Tokyo, Gerasimov told Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera that "exercises in surrounding areas would increase tension and bring instability," The Japan Times reported. "We believe that the issue should be resolved only through political and diplomatic means," said Gerasimov, according to the TASS Russian News Agency.

The warning from the chief of staff of Russia's armed forces came as the U.S., Japan and South Korea began a two-day missile tracking exercise in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Monday. They are the first trilateral anti-missile drills the allies have rolled out since North Korea on November 29 launched its most powerful missile yet, reportedly capable of reaching anywhere in the U.S. mainland.

The three countries are using computer-simulated detection to practice tracking an incoming submarine missile from North Korea. Japan and South Korea are carrying out the drills in their own waters with U.S. ships, according to the South Korean Yonhap News Agency.

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Onodera on Monday said that Moscow had "big clout" with North Korea and asked Russia to cooperate in addressing North Korea's missile and nuclear provocations.

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Gerasimov's warning to Onodera also referred to the large-scale joint aerial exercise called Vigilant Ace that the U.S. and South Korea ran last week. The drill, which included more than 230 aircraft, was designed to prepare for a military attack amid North Korea's latest missile launch.

Pyongyang blamed President Donald Trump for pushing tensions on the peninsula toward "a flare-up," the North Korean state media said.

North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country stated that Trump was "insane" and said the Vigilant Ace exercise would "push the already acute situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of nuclear war."

China, which Trump has urged to increase pressure on North Korea, has called for the U.S. and South Korea to halt their drills.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang recently said the drills created a vicious cycle that was not in any country's interest.

"All relevant parties should do is still to completely, precisely and fully implement the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions toward North Korea, and do more for regional peace and stability and to get all parties back to the negotiating table," Lu said. "Not the opposite, mutual provocation."

Russia Warns U.S. and Japan Military Drills Will 'Increase Tension' With North Korea | World