MOSCOW Russia expressed "deep regret" over North Korea's rocket launch on Wednesday, saying the reclusive nation had violated a U.N. Security Council resolution limiting its use of ballistic technology.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the North Korean launch had heightened instability in the region and called on other nations to refrain from further escalating tensions.
"The new rocket launch carried out by North Korea flaunts the opinion of the international community, including calls from the Russian side, and leaves us with deep regret," it said.
North Korea launched a long-range rocket for the second time this year on Wednesday local time, and may have succeeded in putting a satellite into space, the stated aim of what critics say is a disguised ballistic missile test.
Russia's Defense Ministry said its early warning missile systems had tracked the rocket launch along a southern trajectory, the Interfax-AVN military news agency reported.
"Its flight took a southern course from the Korean peninsula. It posed no threat to Russia," Interfax-AVN quoted an unnamed Defense Ministry source as saying.
Russia is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and is upset by any defiance of council resolutions. Past launches by Pyongyang have caused concern among Russians living near the country's border with North Korea.
North Korea says its rockets are used to put satellites into orbit for peaceful purposes, but Moscow has said Pyongyang would only be allowed to exercise that right if the U.N.-imposed ballistics restrictions.
Russia has often balanced criticism of Soviet-era client state North Korea's nuclear activities and missile launches with calls on other powers to refrain from belligerent actions against Pyongyang, which it says can be counterproductive.
(Reporting By Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Steve Gutterman and Patrick Graham)