Russia 'extremely worried' about North Korea situation, hitting out at South Korea-US drills

People watch a television news screen showing a graphic of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul, on Aug 29, 2017.
People watch a television news screen showing a graphic of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul, on Aug 29, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia on Tuesday (Aug 29) said it was "extremely worried" about the situation in North Korea, hitting out at a "tendency towards an escalation" after Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile over Japan.

"We see a tendency towards an escalation...and we are extremely concerned by the general developments," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti state news agency.

Tokyo also said the missile flew over Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe describing it as "an unprecedented, serious and grave threat" to regional security.

Mr Ryabkov said the huge joint military drills between South Korea and the United States, which began on Aug 21, "had played their role in provoking Pyongyang into this new firing".

Tens of thousands of troops are participating in the two-week Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise on the Korean Peninsula in a move which the North views as highly provocative, seeing it as a rehearsal for an invasion.