December 14, 2010 / 11:18 AM / 10 years ago

Russian forces on alert over Korea tension-report

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has put its forces on alert in the country’s far east because of increased tension on the Korean Peninsula, the Interfax news agency quoted the top military commander as saying Tuesday.

“Without a doubt, we have taken measures to increase the combat-readiness of our forces,” military General Staff chief Nikolai Makarov said, Interfax reported. He said the military was “continuing to monitor” the situation.

Makarov spoke a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his visiting North Korean counterpart that Moscow was “seriously concerned about the growth of military and political tension on the peninsula,” according to the ministry.

Russia shares a short border with North Korea and has expressed concern over its nuclear and missile tests.

Monday, Lavrov told North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun that Pyongyang’s deadly shelling of a South Korean island last month deserved condemnation but also suggested joint South Korean-U.S. military exercises had added to tension.

Lavrov also expressed Russia’s “deep concern” over North Korea’s uranium enrichment capabilities — a second potential route to nuclear weapons in addition to its plutonium program.

Reporting by Steve Gutterman; editing by Maria Golovnina

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