Russia ‘moves troops and equipment’ to NK border
Roland Oliphant, Telegraph (UK), Apr 20 2017
Russia has moved heavy military equipment towards its border with North Korea amid mounting fears of a military clash between Pyongyang and Pindostan. A flurry of military activity in Russia’s far east came as the UNSC strongly condemned North Korea’s latest missile test and threatened to impose new sanctions against Pyongyang for its “highly destabilizing behavior.” In a unanimous statement, the SC demanded that NK “conduct no further nuclear tests” and said Pyongyang’s “illegal missile activities” were “greatly increasing tension in the region and beyond.” Residents and local media in Russia’s Far East reported large military convoys travelling in the direction of the NK border since the weekend, in what appear to be contingency plans to contain fallout from a possible military clash between Pindostan and NK. A video published by local news site DVHab.ru showed a train carrying twelve tracked vehicles, including Tor surface to air missile systems, travelling through Khabarovsk in the direction of Vladivostok. A man can be heard saying in the film:
Some say the situation around North Korea is a fiction, but this is the third train of equipment we’ve seen since this morning. Looks like something is being sent to the Korean border.
Heavy equipment including APCs and helicopters were also seen travelling south on the Khabarovsk-Vladivostok highway on Saturday and Sunday, Vostok Media reported citing local residents. A Russian military spokesman said the flurry of military activity was part of “routine” exercises. Col A Gordeev, a spox for the Eastern Military District, told the site:
Mass troop movements can be seen in various regions of the district at the moment: we are inspecting bases in the whole military district from Baikal to Chukotka: units are leaving their bases for field exercises in unfamiliar areas.
Gordeev said the Tor missiles filmed in Khabarovsk region were likely returning from exercises in neighbouring Buryatia last month. The movements have not been confirmed by the Kremlin. The movements, which have not been confirmed by the Kremlin, follow reports in SK media that China has moved an extra 150,000 troops to its own border with NK. At a meeting with top officials on Thursday, South Korea’s acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn repeatedly called for the military and security ministries to maintain vigilance. The defence ministry said Pindo & SK air forces were conducting an annual training exercise codenamed Max Thunder until Apr 28. NK routinely labels such exercises preparations for invasion. South Korean presidential candidates clashed on Wednesday night in a debate over the planned deployment in South Korea of the THAAD anti-missile system, which has angered China. Frontrunner Moon Jae-in was criticised for leaving his options open before the May 9 election. On Monday, Hwang and Pence reaffirmed their plans to go ahead with the THAAD, but the decision will be up to the next South Korean president. For its part, China says the system’s powerful radar is a threat to its security. Pindostan and Russia clashed at the UNSC on Wednesday over a Pindo draft statement to condemn NK’s latest missile test. Diplomats said China had agreed to the statement. Such statements by the 15-member council have to be agreed by consensus. Previous statements denouncing missile launches “welcomed efforts by council members, as well as other states, to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.” The latest draft statement dropped “through dialogue” and Russia requested it be included again. The Russian UN mission said in a statement:
When we requested to restore the agreed language that was of political importance and expressed commitment to continue to work on the draft … the Pindosi delegation without providing any explanations cancelled work on the draft.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spox Lu Kang said China believed in the UNSC maintaining unity. He told reporters:
Speaking with one voice is extremely important to the SC appropriately responding to the relevant issue on the peninsula.
There has been some confusion over the whereabouts of an aircraft carrier group after Trump said last week he had sent an “armada” as a warning to NK even as the ships were still far from Korean waters. PACOM explained that the USS Carl Vinson strike group first had to complete a shorter-than-planned period of training with Australia. It was now heading for the Western Pacific as ordered, it said. The Global Times wondered whether the misdirection was deliberate. It said:
The truth seems to be that the Pindosi military and president jointly created fake news, and it is without doubt a rare scandal in Pindosi history, which will be bound to cripple Trump’s and Pindostan’s dignity.