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Russia opposes THAAD defense system in Korea

Moscow shares Beijing's view THAAD could be used to monitor military movements.

By
Elizabeth Shim
The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin is opposed to the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system on the Korean peninsula, the Russian ambassador to Seoul said Wednesday. File Pool Photo by Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA
The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin is opposed to the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system on the Korean peninsula, the Russian ambassador to Seoul said Wednesday. File Pool Photo by Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA

March 29 (UPI) -- Russia's top diplomat in Seoul said Wednesday Moscow can have it both ways: stand in opposition to the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system on the Korean peninsula while developing better ties with Washington.

Ambassador Alexander Timonin told South Korean reporters the THAAD system is part of the United States' global missile defense system, or a means to expand the U.S. presence in Asia, South Korean news service Money Today reported.

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"The North continues to pursue nuclear and missile tests despite the [United Nations Security Council] resolutions and warnings from its neighboring countries. The United States and South Korea are also holding joint military drills aiming to practice an attack on Pyongyang, while the deployment of THAAD, a part of the U.S. global missile defense, is under way on the Korean peninsula," Timonin said.

Russia is opposed to THAAD and wants all relevant countries to work to ease tensions in Northeast Asia, he added.

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Moscow shares Beijing's view that THAAD could be used to monitor military movements within national borders.

The United States has tried to reassure North Korea's neighbors the THAAD system is to be used solely for the purpose of deterring incoming North Korea missiles.

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In February, Timonin warned South Korea of consequences should Seoul go ahead and deploy THAAD – although the defense measure is a joint decision with the United States.

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China has also engaged in some measures of economic retaliation against South Korean entities in the wake of the decision to deploy THAAD, and has lambasted former President Park Geun-hye for the decision.

Both countries have been less vocal about taking issue with the United States for the joint deployment, a move that would defend the lives of U.S. troops in South Korea and potentially block North Korea intercontinental ballistic missiles from reaching the U.S. mainland.

Timonin again eschewed criticism of the United States on Wednesday, telling reporters instead Russia stands ready to develop a "constructive relationship" with the United States based on mutual respect and understanding.

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Russia sees the Washington is ready to cooperate, Timonin said.

Moscow, in turn, is prepared to resume the six-party talks on North Korea denuclearization, the ambassador said.

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