RUSSIA has dramatically relocated 1,500 people from its border with North Korea after Kim Jong-un's latest missile launch, it was reported today.
Russian civil defense officials were reportedly ordered to shift residents in the country's far east to "safe areas" in a extraordinary move amid fears of a major coming conflict.
North Korea angered the international community by launching a missile that flew directly over Japan.
In response, US President Donald Trump threatened the communist state with military action, warning "all options are on the table".
As Trump reeled from the provocative test, thousands of people from the city of Vladivostok were moved as part of an emergency operation.
Russia President Vladimir Putin fears the US may wage war against the secretive state after Trump threatened to unleash "fire and fury" should it fire more missiles.
The order to evacuate residents "came from the regional department of the Russian Ministry of Emergencies" according to pro-Kremlin media outlets.
Russia shares a 24 mile land border with reclusive North Korea.
The civil protection department in Vladivostok was instructed to relocate residents living in the border area with North Korea.
It appears to have been triggered by the launch of a missile over Japan in the tinderbox region which has led to soaring tension in Asia.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has warned that the North Korean crisis could morph into an armed confrontation and "lead the world to the brink of a catastrophe".
Yet Russia also maintains political and business ties to Pyongyang.
Last month Russia held massive military drills involving 8,000 troops, 50 warplanes and 3,000 pieces of military kit in its east.
The war exercises took place in Russia’s eastern Transbaikal region – around 3,000km (1,300miles) from its border with North Korea.
Putin made a similar move earlier this year when he sent soldiers to Russia’s border with North Korea in anticipation of a bust-up.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have frayed in recent weeks after the US slapped Russia with more sanctions.
In response, Russia has refused to rule out military action if Trump approves further sanctions.
North Korea’s surprising missile shot over Japan is just the beginning of more serious actions, according to state media.
North Korea launched a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan early Tuesday morning, according to the Korean Central News Agency. The state-run media outlet warned that the launch was a “meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” which North Korea perceives as a forward base for a possible allied invasion.
The North Korean military presented a plan to dictator Kim Jong Un in mid-August to launch four IRBMs into waters around Guam earlier this month. Kim approved but decided to delay the launch, expressing a desire to “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees.”
“In order to defuse the tensions and prevent the dangerous military conflict on the Korean peninsula, it is necessary for the U.S. to make a proper option first and show it through action,” the North said at the time, offering the U.S. the opportunity to defuse the situation.
North Korea is dissatisfied with America’s answer.
“The U.S. answered the DPRK’s warning which it will closely watch the U.S. behavior with the bellicose war exercises for aggression,” KCNA reported, referring to the ongoing Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises, annual joint military exercises involving South Korean and American forces.
The North “should show action, not talk, to the U.S. imprudently denying the DPRK’s initiative measure for easing the extreme tension,” state media explained.
North Korea is still determined to offer the U.S. a way out though. “The DPRK will continue to watch the U.S. demeanor as already declared and decide its future action according to them,” KCNA said, citing Kim Jong Un.
It is unclear if North Korea is bluffing or revealing its legitimate strategic intentions, but it is worth noting that Pyongyang has been increasingly turning rhetoric into reality through advances in its ballistic and nuclear weapons programs. Many observers suspected that North Korea’s claims that it can field a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile capable of threatening the continental U.S. were bluster, but the country now has this kind of weaponry.
While it is essential to recognize propaganda, it is also important to remember that North Korea has revealed critical information on numerous occasions in its past state media reports.
Regardless, the North is signaling that it will be firing more missiles into the Pacific. “It is necessary to positively push forward the work for putting the strategic force on a modern basis by conducting more ballistic rocket launching drills with the Pacific as a target in the future,” KCNA reported.