When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was asked about U.S. foreign policy measures implemented toward Russia, he quipped that he could hardly distinguish between current U.S. President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama.
In a soon-to-be published interview he gave to Italian newspaper Libero, Lavrov cited the fact that Trump continued the previous administration's anti-Russian legislation, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
The outcry came amid Lavrov's rejection to cut ties with North Korea following Pyongyang's ballistic missile launch yesterday, as well as the “submission of the anti-Russian lobby in Washington." The Russian diplomat said this resulted in “new and unfriendly steps ... taken in various areas” and the buildup of NATO and U.S. forces near Russian borders.
For her part, Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., suggested that countries around the world should cut ties with North Korea, as well as trade links and the expulsion of North Korean workers, according to Reuters.
While the Trump administration promised to impose new sanctions on North Korea for the intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM, launch, North Korean state television stated that its weaponry “meets the goal of the completion of the rocket weaponry system development set by the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea).”
Lavrov said additional sanctions against North Korea, coupled with “large-scale” joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises planned for December, give the impression that the United States wants to provoke Kim Jong-un into “flying off the handle” and take another reckless step.
"The Americans need to explain to us all if they want to find a pretext to destroy North Korea. Let them say it directly ... then we can take a decision about how to react," Lavrov said, according to The Times of Israel.
The tit-for-tat rhetoric of war has seen Trump refer to North Korea's President Kim Jong-un as a “madman” who, responding in kind, called the U.S. president a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”