The North Korean regime today hit back at South Korean President Yoon Seok-gil, who criticized Pyongyang’s cooperation with Moscow after Kim Jong Un’s trip to Russia, saying it was “normal” for the neighbors to maintain close ties.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, South Korean President Yun stressed that if Russia were to help North Korea strengthen its arsenal in exchange for its contribution to the attack it has launched in Ukraine, it would be a “direct provocation”.

As reported by the North Korean news agency (KCNA), Pyongyang denounced Yun’s “malicious slander” about its friendly cooperation with Russia, accusing the South Korean president of acting as a “mouthpiece” for the US.

“It is completely normal for neighboring countries to maintain close relations, and we will not be held accountable for this,” a press release broadcast by KCNA said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled last week to Russia, where he agreed with Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin to boost military and economic cooperation between their countries.

Officials in Washington and Seoul believe that Russia is seeking to acquire munitions from North Korea to make up for losses in the Ukraine war, while Pyongyang is also seeking advanced technology to develop its arsenal.

“The foreign policy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (as is the official name of North Korea) does not depend on anything. Relations of friendship and cooperation with neighbors will continue to be strengthened,” KCNA reported.