June 5 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed U.S. military actions in the Middle East for North Korea's nuclear weapons buildup, although Washington has offered security assurances to Pyongyang across multiple administrations.
Speaking Friday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin said small countries like North Korea have no option but to build weapons of mass destruction to defend against superpowers like the United States, Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported Sunday.
"Let us agree on a unified understanding of norms, fundamental principles of the international law and adhere to these rules. Because as long as there are none, as long as the rule of the strongest, the fist law, is being implemented, we will encounter problems that we are now witnessing in North Korea," Putin said, according to Sputnik.
Moscow has frequently called for an end to annual joint exercises around the Korean peninsula. The government also has claimed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization contains Russia.
Putin suggested the United States' influence across the globe was driving North Korea fears of an imminent U.S. attack.
"[They] destroyed Iraq, Libya, were close to destroying Syria. Stirred up the situation in Egypt, Tunisia, leaving them in a terrible state, let alone the processes that occurred in other countries such as Somalia. After that [they] got to the so-called post-Soviet space... And supported a coup d'état [in Ukraine]... This is a support for the armed seizure of power," Putin said.
Russia voted in favor of heavier sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime at the United Nations Security Council last week, but Putin may believe the underlying cause for North Korean belligerence is the strengthening of U.S. military capabilities in the Asia Pacific.