SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea condemned on Friday the decision by the United States to supply Ukraine with advanced battle tanks to help fight off Russia's invasion, saying Washington is escalating a sinister "proxy war" aimed at destroying Moscow.
The comments by the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un underscored the country's deepening alignment with Russia over the war in Ukraine as it confronts the United States and its Asian allies over its own growing nuclear weapons and missiles program.
North Korea has blamed the United States for the crisis in Ukraine, insisting that the West's "hegemonic policy" forced Russia to take military action to protect its security interests.
It has also used the distraction created by the war to accelerate its own weapons development, test-firing more than 70 missiles in 2022 alone, including potentially nuclear-capable weapons believed able to target South Korea and the U.S. mainland.
The United States has accused North Korea of sending large supplies of artillery shells and other ammunition to Russia to support its offensive in Ukraine, although the North has repeatedly denied the claim.
Kim Yo Jong's comments, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, came after U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday said the United States will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, reversing months of arguments by Washington that they were too difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate and maintain. The U.S. decision followed Germany's agreement to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its own stocks.
Kim said the Biden administration was "further crossing the red line" by sending its main tanks to Ukraine and that the decision reflects a "sinister intention to realize its hegemonic aim by further expanding the proxy war for destroying Russia."
"The U.S. is the arch criminal which poses serious threat and challenge to the strategic security of Russia and pushes the regional situation to the present grave phase," she said.
"I do not doubt that any military hardware the U.S. and the West boast of will be burnt into pieces in the face of the indomitable fighting spirit and might of the heroic Russian army and people," she said, adding that North Korea will always "stand in the same trench" with Russia.
North Korea is the only nation other than Russia and Syria to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, two Russian-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, and has also hinted at plans to send workers there to help with rebuilding efforts.