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Russian President Vladimir Putin says putting pressure on North Korea is a ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin says putting pressure on North Korea is a ...
Russian President Vladimir Putin says putting pressure on North Korea is a ...

"Russia believes that the policy of putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile program is misguided and futile," Putin said in an article released Thursday by the Kremlin, ahead of the BRICS summit in Xiamen, China.

"The region's problems should only be settled through a direct dialogue of all the parties concerned without any preconditions. Provocations, pressure and militarist and insulting rhetoric are a dead-end road," Putin said.

Russia was a participant in the six-party talks, which took place in the mid-2000s in an attempt to get North Korea to abandon its then burgeoning nuclear program.

In his published comments, the Russian president said the situation on the Korean Peninsula was "balancing on the brink of a large-scale conflict."

'Rash act'

On Thursday, four US F-35B fighter jets joined two US B-1B bombers and four South Korean F-15 fighter jets in a joint US-South Korean drill, which simulated a surgical strike on key enemy facilities, over the Pilsung Range in the eastern province of Gangwon, South Korea.

In a statement, US Pacific Command said the flyover was a "direct response" to North Korea's launch Tuesday of an intermediate range ballistic missile over Japan.

Pyongyang denounced the drill Thursday, with state news agency KCNA described as "wild military acts."

"The US imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces do not hide their bellicose nature, claiming that the exercises are to 'counter' (North Korea's) ballistic rocket launches and nuclear weapons development," KCNA said.

The agency added that the US and South Korea were "taken aback" by North Korea's recent missile launch, the country's "first military operation in the Pacific."

That launch sparked some panic in Japan, with air sirens sounding in the northern part of the country and residents there receiving a text message urging them to seek shelter in a strong structure or a basement.

On Friday, scheduled emergency evacuation drills took place in multiple Japanese cities, practicing for a "missile launch from Country X."

Hundreds of local residents in Aomori and Hokkaido prefectures took shelter in community centers and public buildings at the sound of a mock siren.

War games
South Korea and the United States are currently engaged in joint military exercises, which kicked off last week.

At a news conference Thursday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying seemed to be referring to the largely simulated drills when she said the situation in the Korean Peninsula "is not like a movie script or computer game."

The annual exercises always infuriate Pyongyang, and some have called for them to be called off or scaled back as a show of good faith that might bring North Korean leader Kim Jong Un back to the negotiating table.

Speaking Thursday, General Vincent K. Brooks, commander of US Forces Korea, said this was taken into consideration.

"The US did not dispatch bombers during the recently concluded exercise in hopes that the reduced scale would send a positive signal to North Korea and the region," he said in a statement.

"Instead, North Korea responded to the gesture with rehearsals of special operations raids against South Korean islands, three short range missile firings, and one intermediate range ballistic missile that overflew Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean. Apparently the changes in the exercise did not matter."

Show of force
In the wake of Tuesday's missile launch, Pyongyang said it would stage future military operations directed at the American territory of Guam.

Guam has long been a focal point of North Korea's anger against the US and is often a target of North Korean saber-rattling.

It was threatened specifically by North Korea in 2013 and again in August 2017, following a fiery exchange of threats and insults between and the North Korean regime.

The small island in the Western Pacific is the closest US territory to North Korea and hosts two important US military installations.

One is Andersen Air Force Base, from which the US B-1B bombers flew Thursday. They were joined by F-35 fighters flying from a US Marines base in Iwakuni, Japan.

The F-35 stealth fighters would be a key part of any US pre-emptive strike on North Korea designed to neutralize the country's defensive and counterstrike capabilities, Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told CNN earlier this month.

Corey Wallace, a security analyst at Freie University in Berlin, told CNN this week the use of the F-35s out of Japan showed the United States had various options for potentially striking North Korea.

"(Washington has) platforms from Guam and Japan linking up and operating together over South Korea with South Korean assets, with all of the governments supporting this," he said.

CNN's Taehoon Lee, Josh Berlinger, Karen Smith, Radina Gigova, Zachary

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