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Russia Downplays N. Korea Call to Evacuate as Deadline Nears

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April 9 (Bloomberg) -- Russia is keeping its North Korean embassy staffed with no additional security measures after the Asian nation warned diplomats to leave by tomorrow, saying it won’t be able to protect them while threatening nuclear strikes.

“We are working as normal, as we did a week ago,” embassy spokesman Denis Samsonov said today by phone from Pyongyang. “Everything that’s happening here at the moment is everyday routine.”

North Korea told countries including Russia to consider evacuating diplomats from the capital by April 10 and said foreigners in South Korea may be in danger. Tensions are escalating after the communist nation threatened to wage a pre-emptive nuclear war on the U.S. and South Korea.

Kim Jong Un’s regime warned last week that “the moment of explosion is approaching soon” and said it’s poised to conduct a “smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike.”

Russia calls for “quiet and non-public” diplomatic efforts, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with independent RTVi channel, published on the ministry’s website.

The warning to diplomats in Pyongyang is part of “an escalating series of rhetorical statements, and the question is to what end,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington on April 5. The U.S. is seeking to ease tensions and can defend itself and allies, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said April 6.

South Korea’s military saw no immediate signs of North Korea making preparations for an attack, Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok said today, a day after he confirmed the North has been ready since February to conduct a fourth underground atomic weapon test.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stepan Kravchenko in Moscow at skravchenko@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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