The latest North Korean missile test impacted very close to Russia, the US said on Sunday (14 May) in an apparent warning to Moscow that its territory too was under threat from Pyongyang, not just Japan, South Korea and America. However, Moscow denied the claim, saying the missile posed no threat to Russian territory.

"With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil – in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan – the president cannot imagine that Russia is pleased," a statement from the White House said soon after reports emerged of the latest missile launch.

According to calculations by US experts, the projectile landed in the Sea of Japan just 60 miles south of Russia's Vladivostok region that houses the Russian Pacific fleet, a US official told CNN.

The Russian defence ministry, meanwhile, clarified that the North Korean missile's trajectory was at a safe distance from its territory.

Russia's missile alert systems detected the launch at around 11.30pm local time (2000 GMT) on Friday (13 May), the Russian ministry said in a statement. It added that their system tracked the projectile for 23 minutes before it crushed into the Sea of Japan some 500km off the Russian coast.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is in Beijing attending the One Belt One Road summit, expressed concerns over the latest missile launch by Pyongyang, a Kremlin spokesman said on the sidelines of the meeting on Saturday morning.

Japan earlier said that the projectile flew 700km and reached an altitude of around 2,000km before falling into the sea. It added that the unusual altitude achieved by the missile shows it could be a "new type".

Japan's Defence Minister Tomomi Inada said the missile launch was likely conducted at a steep "lofted" trajectory that helped it hit the highest-ever altitude recorded by their ministry.

A senior ministry official later told the Japan Times that even a ballistic missile with a range of about 1,300 km usually hits a similar altitude, but the "rather unusual" altitude achieved by this missile meant it could have been lofted, "meaning Pyongyang may have intentionally fired it at the higher altitude to shorten its flying distance".

North Korea ballistic missile launch
The US said the latest North Korea missile launch impacted very close to Russian soil, even closer than Japan - File photo KCNA via Reuters

The US Pacific Command, however, said it was still assessing the type of missile tested.

The White House noted that "this latest provocation" should serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea. Meanwhile, China called for restraint, saying the current situation in the Korean peninsula was "complex and sensitive".

"All sides should exercise restraint and refrain from taking actions that would further escalate tensions in the region," a statement from China's foreign ministry said.

Earlier, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that his foreign minister spoke with his counterpart in South Korea over the phone to discuss the latest missile launch.

Shotaro Yachi, Abe's top security adviser, also had a phone call with US National Security Adviser H R McMaster, Abe added.

South Korea's newly-elected liberal president, Moon Jae-in, held a security council meeting following the missile test and condemned the North Korean action, vowing retaliation. He had earlier expressed willingness to meet Kim to resolve tensions between the two Koreas.