A senior official at Russia's foreign ministry said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's recent hardline remarks show that there is a sharply increasing possibility for a direct military clash on the Korean Peninsula.
In an interview with Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency on Sunday, Ivan Zhelokhovtsev, director of the ministry's first Asian department, said Kim's comments should be viewed in the context of the U.S. and allies' joint military drills and other military actions targeting the North.
The official said Pyongyang has had no other choice but to take reasonable steps to protect its sovereignty through defense of national security and reinforcement of defense.
Last month, the regime leader threatened to mobilize all means and capacity to reduce South Korea to ashes should the latter first attempt to use military force. Last December, he alluded to a possible nuclear attack against mainland U.S.
On the frayed Seoul-Moscow relations, the official assessed that while Seoul has shown an intent to leave the door open for a possible improvement in ties, Moscow's position will depend on Seoul's export controls against Moscow.