Vladimir Putin is refusing to comment on media reports that Russia is quietly moving military hardware and troops towards the border with North Korea.
According to the RIA news agency, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that deployments of Russian troops inside Russia’s own borders were not a public matter.
Unverified video footage appears to show a train, believed to be one of three, loaded with military equipment and headed towards the 11-mile border between Russia and the secretive hermit state.
Another video appears to show military helicopters moving towards the Russian border as well as army combat vehicles moving across rugged terrain.
A report from primemedia.RU claims: ‘Railway trains loaded with military equipment moving towards Primorsky region via Khabarovsk have been noticed by locals.
A military official added: ‘The movement of military equipment by different means of transport to southern areas is being observed across Primorsky region over the past week.’
South Korea on heightened alert
Meanwhile, South Korea confirmed on Friday morning it was on heightened alert ahead of another important anniversary north of the border, with a large concentration of military hardware amassed on both sides of the border amid concerns about a new nuclear test by Pyongyang.
U.S. officials said there was a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers, signalling a possible heightened state of readiness by Beijing, reclusive North Korea’s sole major ally, although the officials played down concern and left open a range of possible reasons.
Kim’s extraordinary threats
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said: “In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes.”
The statement came as footage emerged of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un smiling and waving as cheering crowds watched a simulation of a U.S. city being wiped out by a nuclear attack.
North Korea claimed earlier this year that it had successfully tested a new type of medium- to long-range ballistic missile.
However, last week it conducted a failed missile test, drawing international condemnation.
A war of words has broken out recently after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, warned that the ‘”era of strategic patience” with North Korea is over, adding that any attack would be met with an “overwhelming response”.
China has moved 150,000 troops to the notoriously secretive state, while Russian president Vladimir Putin has also reportedly relocated troops to its border with the country.
Russian military spokesman Alexander Gordeyev refused to say why troops and equipment had been moved but said exercises had recently ended in the TransBaikal region of Siberia.
Moscow’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said: “Unfortunately, we have to admit that the risk of a serious conflict in this region has substantially increased.”
Above pic: Rex
The movement comes only a day after Russia and the US clashed at the UN over a UN security council statement, drafted by the US, which condemned North Korea’s latest failed test.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: ‘We’re reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage with us.’
Hwang Kyo-ahn, the acting president of South Korea, has also called for security agencies and international regimes to remain vigilant after North Korea launched a missile into the sea last week.