MOSCOW, December 20. /TASS/. Moscow welcomes all steps that help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told reporters on Wednesday, commenting on South Korea President Moon Jae-in’s initiative to delay military drills with the US until after the 2018 Olympic Games.
"We have been calling on the parties to show restraint, particularly in regard to the joint military drills of the United States and South Korea," Gatilov said. "We definitely welcome all steps that help ease tensions," the senior Russian diplomat added.
On Tuesday, Moon Jae-in said in an interview with NBC that South Korea and the United States could postpone joint military drills in order to ease tensions ahead of the Olympics. He was also hopeful that the Olympic Games would promote peace between Seoul and Pyongyang. The South Korean president also said that there was no reason to be concerned about safety during the Olympics.
The Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang will be held on February 9-25, 2018, while the Paralympics will take place on March 9-19.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula remains tense as Pyongyang continues to develop its nuclear and missile programs, while Seoul and Washington hold joint military drills.
On November 29, North Korea conducted a missile launch, the first since September 15. After the launch, Pyongyang announced that the Hwasong-15 missile was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, while the entire US territory was within its range.
In early December, South Korea and the United States carried out joint drills dubbed the Vigilant Ace 18. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement strongly condemning the drills and noting that Washington’s campaign to demonize Pyongyang was leading to a war, while North Korea only "pursues a legitimate and fair aim by strengthening its means of nuclear deterrence."
A number of South Korean media outlets said that Seoul and Washington were considering the possibility to delay the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills usually held in February or March. In the recent years, the Foal Eagle drills involved 200,000 to 300,000 troops. Seoul believes that in case these drills are held as scheduled, Pyongyang may take steps that will create a negative atmosphere for the Olympic Games.