Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that the use of force against North Korea would have “catastrophic” consequences at an annual end-of-year press conference.
Addressing an audience of 1,600 Russian and foreign journalists in Moscow, Putin said he hopes to work alongside Washington in resolving the situation in North Korea.
The Russian president announced he supported the US secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s desire to begin talks with Pyongyang and said Russia is ready for “constructive” cooperation between the US and Korean Peninsula.
However, Putin’s interpretation is conflicting with the view of Washington.
A State and Department spokesperson said the US stance was still that it didn’t want to have a dialogue with North Korea.
Despite announcing that Russia does not accept North Korea’s nuclear status, Putin agreed that past actions by the US has “provoked” Pyongyang to withdraw from a 2005 agreement which had suspended its nuclear programme.
He said both sides should “stop aggravating the situation”.
The press conference is one of the Presidents last major public appearances before the presidential elections in early 2018, which Putin revealed he would be running for as an independent candidate, instead of as a candidate for United Russia. Given his likelihood of winning, he is expected to remain in office until 2024.
Putin, who has been in office since 1999, said:
I will run on my own behalf…I hope that I will be supported by some popular movements, parties or any other groups that share my views and that endorse my views so I really rely on broad support from our people.
Putin said his motivations were in improving Russians lives, increasing the incomes of citizens, and improving infrastructure, education, and healthcare.
Ksenia Sobchak a former socialite turned liberal TV presenter is planning to run against Putin, though many suspect Sobchak is running on behalf of the Kremlin to split the opposition and boost interest in the polls.
Putin said, “It’s not my job to raise competitors”, and suggested the competition so far did not present “real issues that people will believe in.
Putin also revealed he believed there would be little improvement as on diplomatic relations between Russia and the US, and said US president Donald Trump was being held back by political opposition.
It’s clear that even if [Trump] wanted to, he’s not in a condition to do that because of clear restrictions.
Putin denied all allegations of Russian involvement within the 2016 US elections but praised Trump’s work as leader, referencing the booming US stock market.