Russia is denying reports that it has been moving troops to the border with North Korea amid heightened regional tension, despite contradictory accounts from local witnesses.
Pictures which appeared on social media this week purport to show Russian military vehicles and helicopters near Vladivostock in the Primorsky region.
The video has been authenticated by the Associated Press based on the opinions of regional experts and the news agency’s own reporting.
But the Russian military has said these were normal manoeuvres unconnected to the North Korean situation.
“These are totally pre-planned military exercises, which are in no way related to political issues,” Alexander Gordeyev, a spokesman for Russia’s Eastern military district was quoted as saying. He added that the hardware people had seen was being transported back to base following the drills.
The Kremlin’s spokesman said this was Russia’s business only.
“The issue of deployment and redeployment of troops inside the country does not fall into the category of public affairs. Any country in the process of building its own security reacts to changes in the international situation,” Dmitry Peskov said.
Some media in Russia’s Far East have cited local residents as saying they have seen military hardware being moved towards North Korea.
Following last weekend’s anniversary parade that gave North Korea a chance to show off new weaponry, the country has more events lined up next week.
Pyongyang has called the situation on the Korean peninsula was “extremely perilous” because of “madcap American nuclear war manoeuvres”.
South Korea remains on heightened alert for another possible nuclear test by the North. Seoul has been running joint military exercises with the United States, which are due to finish at the end of April.
“A lot of exercise equipment is amassed in North Korea and also a lot of strategic assets are situated in the Korean peninsula because of the South Korea-US military drills,” South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng told a news briefing.