Russian President Vladimir Putin warned it is “impossible to scare” North Korea on Thursday, adding that Pyongyang would always be opposed to quitting its nuclear program because the country views this as its only means of self defense.

Speaking on the sidelines of an economic summit in the Russian city of Vladivostok, Putin explained the international community had promised to lift economic sanctions against the isolated regime in exchange for it discontinuing its nuclear and missile programs.

However, he argued that such an offer would always be dismissed by Pyongyang because the country would continue to prioritize defense over the prospect of greater economic benefits.

“We are telling them that we will not impose sanctions, which means you will live better, you will have more good and tasty food on the table, you will dress better, but the next step, they think, is an invitation to the cemetery. And they will never agree with this,” Putin said, according to Reuters.

Escalating geopolitical tensions

The isolated regime has conducted a flurry of missile tests in recent weeks amid escalating geopolitical tensions. On Sunday, Pyongyang detonated its sixth – and largest ever – nuclear explosion.

In response, the U.S. proposed a range of new United Nations sanctions against North Korea on Thursday. The draft from Washington seeks to impose a total ban on supplying a range of oil products to Pyongyang and calls for a ban on its textile export industry.

However, Russia and China are expected to oppose further sanctions and both wield the power to veto resolutions at the UN Security Council.

The UN has already imposed highly restrictive sanctions on North Korea, designed to force its leadership to curb its nuclear and missile programs.

“It is impossible to scare them,” Putin said, according to the news agency.

South Korean President Moon Jae-In said Thursday that he was in discussion with leaders from Russia, the U.S. and Japan about how to resolve the crisis.

Speaking at the same economic conference as Putin, Moon appeared to contradict his Russian counterpart as he argued that new sanctions needed to be considered because they were designed to achieve a diplomatic solution. Continue reading.