Russian bombers flew a mission over the Korean Peninsula last week, while the U.S. and South Korea conduct their annual war games, or military exercises.
Moscow said Tu-95 bombers and Sukhoi-35S fighter jets flew over the Pacific Ocean, Sea of Japan and East China Sea, which forced Japan and South Korea to scramble jets, according to a report.
Moscow has told the U.S. not to take military action against North Korea, and has also said the military drills with South Korea increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Russia shares a border with North Korea.
“Our long-range aviation pilots, according to an established plan, regularly carry out flights over neutral waters over the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Black Sea and the Pacific Ocean from their bases and from tactical airfields,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, according to the report.
“The US and South Korea holding yet more large-scale military and naval exercises does not help reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, according to the report. “We urge all sides to exercise maximum caution. Given the arms buildup in the region, any rash move or even an unintended incident could spark a military conflict.”
Most recently, North Korea launched four missiles during the war games. Three were launched on Aug. 26, and one of those missiles exploded shortly after it was launched, U.S. officials said.
The fourth missile was an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 ballistic missile, which flew over Japan on Aug. 28.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that “all options are on the table” when it comes to dealing with North Korea. This statement comes the day after North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan in what has been called its most provocative missile test yet.
Rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea continues to be jarring and instigating. Just as one country seemingly calms the conversation, another jabs back with another punch.
The following is a summarized timeline of some of the back-and-forth:
- The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) out of Pyongyang recently released new North Korean propaganda posters that “answer” the United States’ threats and warnings not to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or threaten Guam, a U.S. territory in the Western Pacific. One of the posters shows the U.S. Capitol building being blown up.
- The propaganda posters came on the heels of North Korea backing down and calling off its threat to bomb Guam.
- The KCNA had said that Kim Jong Un might change his mind “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.”
- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that if North Korea did fire a missile at the United States, “it’s game on.”
- On August 11 – prior to Mattis’ last comments, President Donald Trump threatened that Kim Jong Un will “truly regret it, and regret it fast” if North Korea were to fire any missile.
- North Korea on August 8 threatened to attack Guam with intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missiles, and then said it would continue to plan a strike on the U.S. territory despite warnings from both President Trump and Defense Secretary Mattis, and that plans for the attack would be completed by mid-August.
- This came on the heels of Trump saying August 8 that North Korea would be met with “fire and fury” if it continues to threaten the United States. And, Mattis also said North Korea should “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.”
- Trump later said his “fire and fury” statement might not have been “tough enough,” and the President said August 10 for North Korea to “get their act together” or the country will be in trouble “like few nations have ever been.”
- Trump also said August 10 that while Americans should be “very comfortable,” North Koreans should be “very, very nervous […] because things will happen to them like they never thought possible.”
- On August 11, Trump tweeted and warned Kim Jong Un that: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
- North Korea had responded to U.S. threats not long before that, saying it considers the United States “no more than a lump which we can beat to a jelly any time.”