Military maneuvers planned by South Korean troops will be delayed because of bad weather on a border island shelled by North Korea last month, as Russia and China expressed concerns over rising tensions on the divided peninsula.
The North warned Friday that it would strike even harder than before if the South went ahead with its planned drills. Four people died last month in the North’s attack on Yeonpyeong Island near the tense sea border.
The U.S. supports South Korea, saying the country has a right to conduct such a military exercise. However, Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed its “extreme concern” Friday over the drills and urged South Korea to cancel it to prevent a further escalation of tensions.
China, the North’s key ally, said it is firmly against any acts that could worsen already-high tensions on the Korean peninsula. “In regard to what could lead to worsening the situation or any escalation of acts of sabotage of regional peace and stability, China is firmly and unambiguously opposed,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement Saturday.
Several bloody naval skirmishes occurred along the western sea border in recent years, but last month’s assault was the first by the North to target a civilian area since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The North does not recognize the U.N.-drawn sea border in the area.