SINGAPORE – North Korea's nuclear ambitions are threatening to Russia, a Russian official said Sunday.
"It is not only (a) ballistic missile defense system — it has real function," said Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin. "That is why it is alarming. And it is direct threat to Russia. We are convinced that it will increase the tensions of the region. That is our principle position."
Fomin spoke at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an international security conference in Singapore attended by defense ministers and experts from 39 countries, including U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Russia borders North Korea and saw one of Pyongyang's missiles land close to its waters. But it differs from the U.S. and its allies on how to rein in the North's rapidly escalating nuclear and ballistic missile program.
Backing fresh sanctions on North Korea, Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Vladimir Safronkov stressed in June that "the choice here has to be made in favor of using diplomatic tools to the maximum extent possible."
Fomin had similar sentiments. "Economical restrictions should be a kind of tool to invoke North Korea to a peaceful process of resolving the dispute and conflict, and not to once again deteriorate the economic solution in North Korea," he said.
Addressing the South China Sea conflict, Fomin was careful with his words. "All states involved in territorial disagreements in the South China Sea need to adhere the principle of the non-use of force," he said.
China - a Russian ally - has pitted itself against its smaller neighbors in claiming disputed islands, coral reefs and lagoons in the South China Sea.