MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin is reportedly sending troops and equipment to Russia’s border with North Korea over fears the US is preparing to attack Kim Jong-un.
Footage emerged on Thursday morning shows one of three trains carrying tanks to 11-mile frontier in Russia’s south east.
Another video highlights military helicopter movements towards the North Korean border and manoeuvres across rough terrain by army combat vehicles.
Other reports suggest there have been military moves by road as well.
The Russian president fears there will be a huge exodus of North Korean refugees if his American counterpart, Donald Trump, launches military action against Pyongyang.
China has also deployed 150,000 soldiers to its southern frontier to cope with the tidal wave of North Koreans Beijing fears would flee across the border if war breaks out.
There have been concerns that if a conflict breaks out Russia could face a humanitarian exodus from North Korea.
But Putin has been warned, too, that in the event of a US strike on Kim Jong-un’s nuclear facilities, contamination could swiftly reach Russia.
“Railway trains loaded with military equipment moving towards Primorsky region via Khabarovsk have been noticed by locals,” reported primemedia.ru in the Russian far East – linking the development to the North Korean crisis.
Russian military spokesman Alexander Gordeyev declined to give the exact reasons for the troop and equipment movements but said exercises had recently ended in the TransBaikal region of Siberia.
However, a number of local sources appear to believe the movements are linked to the Korean crisis.
The naval port of Vladivostok – where Russia has huge military forces – is less than 100 miles from North Korea.
The US and Russia clashed at the United Nations on Wednesday over a US-drafted Security Council statement to condemn North Korea’s latest failed ballistic missile test. Diplomats said China had agreed to the statement.
Russia on Wednesday blocked UN Security Council condemnation of Pyongyang’s latest missile test – even though China, which has a major frontier with North Korea had backed the strongly-worded statement put forward by the United States.
The proposed statement would have demanded that North Korea ‘conduct no further nuclear tests’ and halt missile launches.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he wants to exert pressure on North Korea over its nuclear programme as the communist state warned of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” and told the US don’t “mess with us”.
Tillerson said: “We’re reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage with us.”
South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn has called for military and security ministries to maintain vigilance.
There has been confusion over the whereabouts of a US aircraft carrier group after Trump said last week he had sent an “armada” as a warning to North Korea, even as the ships were sailing in the opposite direction.