MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test but also warned against using military force against the country, calling it a “road to nowhere” that could lead to a “global catastrophe.”
North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date on Sunday, triggering U.S. warnings of a “massive military response.” Rattled by the test, South Korea on Tuesday conducted live-fire exercises at sea in its second straight day of military display.
Russia condemns North Korea’s nuclear test as “provocative,” Putin told a televised news conference in China on Tuesday.
But he stopped short of expressing willingness to impose more sanctions on North Korea, saying Moscow views them as “useless and ineffective.”
Putin said North Korea’s neighbors should engage with it, not whip up “military hysteria.”
“It’s a road to nowhere. Whipping up military hysteria — this will lead to no good,” he said. “It could cause a global catastrophe and an enormous loss of life.”
The Russian president, who was in China for a summit of leading emerging economies, told reporters that he had remarked to one of his counterparts at the talks that North Korea “will eat grass but will not give up the (nuclear) program if they don’t feel safe.”
Putin said it was important that all parties affected by the crisis, including North Korea, not face “threats of annihilation” and “step on the path of cooperation.”
Putin has refrained from making any criticism of President Donald Trump.
He dismissed a question whether he was disappointed in Trump as “naive.”
In comments carried by Russian news agencies, Putin said Trump is “not my bride, and I’m not his groom.”
Asked how Russia would feel if Trump were impeached, Putin said it would be “absolutely wrong” for Russia to discuss domestic U.S. politics:
Russian officials cheered Trump when he was elected last year, and Putin praised him as someone who wanted to improve ties with Russia. However, further U.S. sanctions on Russia and the U.S. decision to close a Russian consulate have raised concerns that the two countries remain far apart.