MOSCOW – Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected on Thursday Washington’s call for further international sanctions against North Korea in response to its latest ballistic missile test, insisting that such approaches had already been exhausted.
Speaking to press in Minsk, Belarus, Lavrov said the United States’ actions against Pyongyang appeared to be a bid to provoke the reclusive country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
“We have a negative attitude towards this [US calls for sanctions]. We have said on more than one occasion that applying pressure through international sanctions is a route that has already been exhausted,” said Moscow’s top diplomat, as cited by Russian media.
He considered Washington’s apparent opposition to negotiations with Pyongyang, a favored approach in Moscow’s eyes, erroneous.
“If they are looking for a pretext to destroy North Korea, as the United States representative at the United Nations Security Council has said, then they should say it openly and let the US government ratify it. Then we will decide how to react,” he added.
In the early hours of Wednesday, North Korea test-launched a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile from a base near Pyongyang.
The projectile splashed down into the Sea of Japan after a 50-minute flight that North Korea claimed had reached 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles) above the Earth and could hit the US mainland.
Amid widespread condemnation from the international community, US President Donald Trump called his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, asking him to halt oil sales to Pyongyang.
China’s government reacted by saying all UN security resolutions should be applied, although it fell short of specifically mention its oil trade with the so-called hermit kingdom.