North Korea backs Russia's proclaimed annexations, criticises U.S. 'double standards'

State flags of Russia and North Korea fly in a street near a church during the visit of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un to Vladivostok, Russia April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev/Files

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea supports Russia's proclaimed annexation of parts of Ukraine, its foreign ministry said on Tuesday, accusing the United States of applying "gangster-like double standards" in interfering in other country's affairs.

State media KCNA reported on a U.S.-led U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the proclaimed annexation, which was vetoed on Friday by Russia, backing Moscow's claim that the regions chose to be part of Russia.

Kyiv and Western leaders condemned the referendums as a sham, with Washington urging U.N. member states not to recognise any altered status of Ukraine, and Russia to withdraw its troops from the regions where it has seized territory by force and fighting still rages.

Jo Chol Su, director-general of international organisations at Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry, said the referendums were held legitimately in line with the U.N. charter, but the United States was holding "gangster-like double standards" after having invaded other countries to maintain its own "supremacy".

"To maintain the unchallenged 'unipolar world', the U.S. interferes in the internal affairs of independent countries and infringes upon their legal rights by abusing the UNSC," Jo said in a statement carried by KCNA.

"The U.S. unleashed wars of aggression against sovereign states including former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, but the U.S. has not been called into question by the UNSC."

Jo said the Security Council would face consequences if it follows Washington's "highhanded and arbitrary practices and partial and double-standards acts."

Ukraine severed relations with North Korea, an old Cold-War ally with Russia, in July after Pyongyang recognised two breakaway self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine's east.

The United States said last month that Russia was in the buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use in Ukraine.

But North Korea rejected the report, warning Washington to "keep its mouth shut" and stop creating rumours "tarnishing" the country's image.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; editing by Richard Pullin)

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