North Korea says US driving Ukraine crisis toward nuclear disaster

SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea accused the United States on Thursday of driving the Ukraine crisis toward a global nuclear disaster by supplying F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv's forces, saying Washington had no right to criticise Pyongyang's military cooperation with Russia.

North Korea has previously condemned Washington for supplying arms including cluster munitions to Ukraine and denied that it had provided artillery, rockets and missiles to Russia despite its support of Moscow over its war with Ukraine.

The United States has "no legal right or moral justification to criticise normal cooperation between sovereign states in the defence field," the North's defence minister Kang Sun Nam said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

Pyongyang has sought to deepen relations with Russia and last month invited Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to events marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.

"The United States is responsible for driving the Ukraine crisis to the brink of a global nuclear war by supplying F-16 fighter jets to the Zelenskiy puppet regime," Kang said, referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

"We once again send full support and solidarity to the Russian people's fight of justice waged to defend its sovereign rights and achieve international justice and will increase by hundredfold the military friendship with Russia," he said.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, calling it a "special military operation" to eliminate security threats arising from Kyiv's deepening ties with the West. Kyiv and its Western supporters call Russia's actions an unprovoked war of conquest.

The United States has approved sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands to help Kyiv in its counter-offensive against Russian forces.

(Reporting by Jack Kim and Soo-hyang Choi; editing by Christina Fincher and Mark Heinrich)