Russia warns of 'catastrophic consequences' if conflict erupts on Korean peninsula

26 September 2017, 09:38

Russia has warned of "catastrophic consequences" if military conflict is allowed to break out on the Korean peninsula.

After the US dispatched bomber jets to South Korea over the weekend, Russia's foreign ministry said Washington's approach was a dead end.

The ministry's Mikhail Ulyanov said the country was working "behind the scenes" to find a political solution, but admitted the use of sanctions against North Korea is almost exhausted.

China echoed Russia's concerns, and said war on the peninsula would have "no winners".

On Monday, North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said the isolated state had the right to "shoot down" US planes - even if they were not in the country's airspace.

It followed President Trump's claim that Mr Kim may not be around much longer - a statement the foreign minister said amounted to a declaration of war.

The Pentagon responded with its own threat, saying that if North Korea did not stop its provocative actions, it would make sure the "President is provided with options to deal with Pyongyang".

However, the White House said it was "absurd" to suggest the US had declared war.

"We have not declared war against North Korea and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Speaking in India, US defence secretary James Mattis stressed that the US wants to resolve the escalating nuclear crisis with North Korea diplomatically.

Praising India's efforts to step up pressure on North Korea over its "dangerous and destabilising behaviour", Mr Mattis added: "We maintain the capability to deter North Korea's most dangerous threats but also to back up our diplomats in a manner that keeps this as long as possible in the diplomatic realm."

Last week, in his first speech to the UN General Assembly, Mr Trump vowed to "totally destroy" North Korea if it continued to threaten the US and it allies.

The Pentagon called Saturday's flight by bombers and fighter jets a "show of force" designed to demonstrate the range of military options available to President Trump.

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