North Korea has conducted a flurry of missile tests in recent weeks amid escalating international unease, prompting Putin to weigh in on Friday and warn that the ongoing geopolitical dispute is "balancing on the brink of a large-scale conflict."
On Tuesday, Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile over Japan in a move which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described as an "unprecedented" threat to his country. U.S. President Donald Trump also criticized the missile launch, suggesting it was an act of "contempt."
The missile, which was fired early on Tuesday local time, flew over Hokkaido Island before crashing into the sea. The test appeared to have been conducted in response to an ongoing joint military exercise being carried out by the U.S. and South Korea.
The United Nations condemned North Korea's "outrageous" firing of an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan. However, while the 15-member Security Council urged the country to discontinue its nuclear program, the UN stopped short of threatening new sanctions on Pyongyang.
Russia's and China's ambassadors to the UN both said they were opposed to unilateral sanctions on North Korea. Instead, Moscow and Beijing repeated calls for the U.S. and South Korea to terminate their so-called war games.
Typically, diplomats said veto-wielding council members China and Russia only view a test of a long-range missile or a nuclear weapon as a trigger for further possible sanctions, Reuters reported.