Fearing that the U.S. is preparing to attack North Korea, video footage from Wednesday morning shows that Vladimir Putin is relocating troops and equipment to Russia’s 11-mile border with North Korea, according to a report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
Russian and Chinese officials are worried about the possibility of a mass exodus of North Korean refugees who will flood over the border if the U.S. launches military action against Pyongyang.
China is also sending 150,000 soldiers to its southern border with North Korea.
The video reportedly shows one of three trains loaded with military equipment chugging towards the border, and more footage shows military helicopters and army combat vehicles as they fly and maneuver across the forbidding terrain. There are other reports of military troops taking roads into the area.
The humanitarian exodus from North Korea could be staggering, but Putin has also been warned that a U.S. strike on North Korea’s nuclear facilities could easily affect Russia.
One report from the Russian far East noted, “Railway trains loaded with military equipment moving towards Primorsky region via Khabarovsk have been noticed by locals.”
Calling this “a preventive but necessary” measure, Russian military veteran Stanislav Sinitsyn commented, “The movement of military equipment means that authorities of our country are keeping up with the situation – and take appropriate measures.”
He added, “If the situation worsens, especially related to military events, the armed forces of all the neighboring countries obviously monitor it more closely, and we are no exception. It is not the first time that North Korea has broken the peace in the region, that’s why this situation deserves attention.”
Russian military spokesman Alexander Gordeyev would not give the exact reasons for the troop and equipment movements, but he did say that military exercises had recently ended in the Transbaikal region of Siberia.
On Wednesday, Russia blocked the UN Security Council’s demand that North Korea “conduct no further nuclear tests” and stop missile launches. China also has a major frontier with North Korea, but they backed the strongly-worded statement put forward by the United States.
Pyongyang carried out another missile test this past Sunday, but it was an abject failure.
Moscow’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov called for a “demonstration of responsibility” from all sides to avoid escalation. “Unfortunately, we have to admit that the risk of a serious conflict in this region has substantially increased,” he said.
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