North Korean media blames U.S., allies for Ukraine war ahead of invasion anniversary

Aftermath of a Russian military strike in Stepnohirsk

By Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean state media marked the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine by blaming the crisis on NATO and calling America's involvement a "trail to self-destruction."

In a commentary carried by state news agency KCNA on Thursday on the eve of the Feb. 24 anniversary, international affairs critic Kim Yoo-chul said the conflict in Ukraine is the "inevitable product of coercion and hegemony" by the United States and its allies.

The Ukraine war, the biggest land conflict in Europe since World War Two, has displaced millions, left Ukrainian cities, towns and villages in ruins and disrupted the global economy.

North Korea has forged closed ties to Russia since the war began, publicly supporting Moscow in statements as well as at the United Nations.

"If Ukraine had not blindly taken part in the U.S. policy of anti-Russian confrontation, if it had abandoned the dirty demons of the United States and promoted reconciliation and unity with its neighbours, the situation would not have reached the point where it is as bad as it is now," Kim wrote.

"The current situation in Ukraine once again proves that there can be no peace in the world at any time unless the United States' policy of force, tyranny, and greedy aggression... is ended."

The Kremlin says it regards NATO, which could soon expand to include Sweden and Finland, as an existential threat to Russia.

The United States has accused North Korea of providing weapons to Russia, which both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied.

(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)