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Russia Urges South Korea To Scrap Planned Firing Drill

A South Korean Navy vessel berths at a base off the island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea.
Russia has summoned the U.S. and South Korean ambassadors to express "deep concern" about a live-fire drill planned by Seoul amid mounting tensions with North Korea.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said a similar exercise overseen by a senior U.S. commander provoked North Korea to retaliate by shelling Yeonpyeong Island last month.

Four people were killed in the incident.

The ministry statement called "strongly" on South Korea to cancel the drill to avoid "further escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula."

North Korea's military threatened today to strike back if South Korea goes ahead with drill.

A statement carried by the North Korean official news agency KCNA said Pyongyang's retaliation will be much stronger than last month's shelling of Yeonpyeong.

The shelling was the first time since the Korean War that the North attacked South Korean territory.

South Korea's Defense Ministry today said the drill, planned for December 18-21, would be held despite Pyongyang's threat.

compiled from agency reports