Russia slams US, allies for testing North Korea’s patience

Moscow is following developments on the Korean Peninsula with concern, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Friday.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated in recent months following joint military drills by the US and South Korea, while Pyongyang has responded with dozens of missile launches.

On Friday, North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that Japan said had enough range to hit the US mainland.

The launch came just a day after North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui warned of a “fiercer” response as the US increases its presence in the region in collaboration with South Korea and Japan.

Ryabkov blamed Washington for derailing efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, asserting that Russia remains committed to diplomatic initiatives.

He said Moscow will keep reiterating its “logical” stance in support of diplomatic engagement.

Others “have different priorities and escalation is probably more comfortable for them,” he added.

Ukraine war

On potential Russian-US talks on the Ukraine conflict, Ryabkov said there is no room for engagement as the countries have “radically opposing positions.”

Turning to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he rejected the UN nuclear watchdog’s conclusion that it found no evidence of Ukraine trying to develop a nuclear “dirty bomb.”

He said the IAEA only inspected three nuclear facilities in Ukraine, leaving many more sites out of its investigations.

“These three facilities are by no means all that the Kyiv regime has in this area,” said Ryabkov, adding that Ukraine also has “sponsors” that could be helping it.

“There are no grounds to be satisfied with what the IAEA gathered and reported,” he said.

On the IAEA’s call for Russia to withdraw its military from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ryabkov said the statement “does not reflect the reality” on ground.

US prisoner swap

Ryabkov said Russia remains hopeful for a possible prisoner exchange with the US.

There is some “activity” from the Americans and “we are engaged professionally through a specially designated channel,” he said.

The two sides, however, have not “reached a common denominator yet,” he added.

He confirmed that Viktor Bout, a Russian arms trafficker convicted and jailed in the US, could be part of a future exchange.

The US has previously indicated it would agree to a prisoner exchange for the release of American basketball player Brittney Griner, who is imprisoned in Russia on drug charges.

Source: Anadolu Agency