The U.K. Express reported that Russian media outlets announced the alarming evacuation shortly after the latest missile test by North Korea, which flew over the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

A verbal order was given to relocate 1,500 people to safe areas,” Russian social media outlet Mash reported Tuesday afternoon. “The order came from the regional department of the Russian Ministry of Emergencies.”

The movement was later described as a “training exercise” — activated by North Korea’s missile launch — by another Russian media outlet, FedPress.ru.

“A relocation scheme is being exercised as part of the training,” a source said.

Vladivostok, a city of just over 600,000 people, is Russia’s largest port on the Pacific Ocean. A city of significant military importance, it’s the closest major Russian urban area to the country’s 24-mile land border with North Korea.

Vladivostok is also set to be the site of a summit between Moscow and the Japanese government in the coming weeks, as a sideline to the Eastern Economic Forum. According to the Japan Times, tensions over North Korea are expected to be one of the topics. Nikolai Patrushev, an aide to Vladimir Putin, will reportedly travel to Japan in the coming days to help set the agenda for the meeting.

An evacuation from a border city in the days following a North Korean missile launch and in the weeks preceding a major economic forum and summit aren’t pleasant auguries for those who want peace and stability. Granted, 1,500 people being moved isn’t exactly going to make a dent in a city where that represents 1/400th of the permanent population. However, one also assumes those 1,500 individuals also played some sort of role in Russia’s civil or defense infrastructure, particularly given the fact that the Russian Ministry of Emergencies was involved and that it was part of a “training exercise.”

Several weeks ago, Kim Jong Un sensibly declared a moratorium on his latest spate of missile tests. Now, the crazy fat kid we all knew and loathed is back, and he’s upped the ante by launching the latest missile right over Japan.

Given all that, it’s not just that Vladimir Putin’s government is evacuating its citizens to safety. It’s that we can see this as being the first of many such evacuations. Things look like they’re about to escalate in a major way.

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