Vladimir Putin’s right-hand man Sergei Lavrov said the risk of a military conflict is very high and the succession of the threats issued by Washington and Pyongyang is deeply concerning.
Mr Lavrov said: “Unfortunately, the rhetoric in Washington and Pyongyang is now starting to go over the top.
“We still hope and believe that common sense will prevail.
“Direct threats of using force are heard… The talk [in Washington] is that there must be a preventive strike made on North Korea, while Pyongyang is threatening to carry out a missile strike on the US base in Guam. These threats continue non-stop, and they worry us a lot.”
“I won’t get into guessing what happens ‘if’. We will do whatever we can to prevent this ‘if’.
“My personal opinion is that when you get close to the point of a fight breaking out, the side that is stronger and cleverer should take the first step away from the threshold of danger.”
Mr Lavrov urged both North Korea and the US to sign up to a plan put forward jointly by Russia and China, which will force North Korea to freeze its missile tests in return for a suspension of joint military exercises conducted by South Korea and the US.
He said: “If this double freezing finally takes place, then we can sit down and start from the very beginning – to sign a paper which will stress respect for the sovereignty of all those parties involved, including North Korea.”
But hopes that the US and North Korea will agree to the deal are fading after a Pentagon spokesman confirmed the US and South Korean militaries will go ahead with a major joint military exercise in just ten days time.
The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise, which is conducted annually, is expected to go ahead as originally planned and will begin on August 21, according to Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan.
Previous exercises have angered North Korea and the South Korean and US militaries are believed to conduct “decapitation strikes” during the event, which are practice runs to kill Kim Jong-un and the key figures of the despotic regime.
Given the recent escalation of tensions, these exercises might by the final straw for Kim Jong-un.
Over the past few days Donald Trump has issued a series of warnings and threats to North Korea, while the hermit state has hit back with plans to strike the US territory of Guam.
Meanwhile, German chancellor Angela Merkel has also waded into the ongoing tensions and said there is no military solution.
She said: “An escalation of the rhetoric is the wrong answer.
“I see the need for enduring work at the UN Security Council… as well as tight cooperation between the countries involved, especially the US and China.”