The United States has accused Russia and China of providing “blanket protection” to North Korea from further UN Security Council action and said the pair had “bent over backwards” to justify Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launches.

The US, Britain, France, Albania, Ireland and Norway requested that the Security Council meet on Friday after North Korea, formally known as the DPRK, fired multiple missiles, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile.

“You don’t get to abandon Security Council responsibilities because the DPRK might sell you weapons to fuel your war of aggression in Ukraine, or because you think they make a good regional buffer to the United States,” the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the council, referring to Russia and China.

Russia and China are unlikely to agree to any council action over North Korea’s latest missile launches, diplomats said.

Representatives of China and Russia accused the US of inflaming tensions by mounting large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea.

China’s UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, said that instead of playing up tensions, the US should create conditions for the resumption of meaningful dialogue with North Korea.

“The council should play a constructive role rather than always stressing pressure,” Zhang said. “Under the current circumstances, the council should in particular strive to mitigate confrontation, ease tensions, and promote the political settlement.”

In a joint statement to reporters after the meeting, the elected 10 members of the Security Council condemned North Korea’s missile launches and called on the body to “speak with a unified voice on this matter”.

António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, earlier on Friday condemned North Korea’s missile launches and urged Pyongyang to “immediately desist from taking any further provocative action” and take immediate steps to resume talks aimed at the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

North Korea has long been banned from conducting nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches by the Security Council, which has strengthened sanctions on the country over the years to try to cut off funding for the programs.

But in recent years, the 15-member body has been split on how to deal with the hermit Asian state. In May, China and Russia vetoed a US-led push to impose more sanctions on North Korea over its renewed launches.

“The Security Council needs to do all it can to prevent an escalation,” UN political affairs assistant secretary-general, Mohamed Khaled Khiari, told the council on Friday, without specifying.

China and Russia have instead been pushing for an easing of sanctions on North Korea on humanitarian grounds – in the hope off convincing Pyongyang to return to negotiations.

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