Russia called on Thursday for North and South Korea to exercise restraint in reacting to an investigation that concluded a South Korean warship was sunk by a North Korean submarine in March.
A team of international investigators confirmed on Thursday suspicions that the 1,200-ton Cheonan corvette was sunk by a torpedo launched from a North Korean submarine. Forty-six sailors died on the night of March 26 when the ship went down near the disputed Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea following a sudden explosion.
"We urge all parties concerned to exercise restraint and caution so that tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which increased recently, do not escalate into a conflict," the Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokesman said.
Andrei Nesterenko added that Moscow was paying close attention to how the results of the investigation were being reported in Seoul, as well as to the statement made by the North Korean National Defense Committee, which strongly denied that the North Korean side is connected to the incident.
"Russian experts are scrupulously studying all the data they have on the issue," Nesterenko said.
"Once again I would like to express condolences to the people of the Republic of Korea over the tragic loss of a warship, and numerous human casualties," he said.
The conclusions of the investigation may lead to further deterioration of the already sour relations between the two Koreas and jeopardize international efforts to stop Pyongyang's controversial nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development programs.
North Korea has already called the results of the investigation "a fabrication" and warned Seoul of a harsh response if the South retaliates with new sanctions against Pyongyang over the alleged attack on its warship.
The two countries remain technically at war as their 1950-1953 conflict ended only in an armistice.
Naval clashes between the two states over the disputed sea border took place in 1999, 2002 and last year.
MOSCOW, May 20 (RIA Novosti)