Russia sided with North Korea Thursday in the wake of the Sony hacking crisis, saying the country’s angry reaction toward the Seth Rogen-James Franco film “The Interview” was “understandable.” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a briefing the subject of the Sony Pictures film about a CIA plan to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was out of line.
“In principle, the mere idea of the film is aggressively scandalous and the reaction of the North Korean side is very understandable,” Lukashevich said.
Sony Pictures, the film studio responsible for producing “The Interview,” suffered a devastating cyberattack against its computer networks in November. U.S. officials say they believe the hack was perpetrated by North Korea in retaliation for the movie’s controversial plot.
Lukashevich, however, said the United States had not provided any proof of North Korea’s involvement in the attack. “We should remind you that the U.S. side has not given any direct evidence to justify the claims,” Lukashevich said. North Korea has denied culpability.
At his end-of-the-year press conference Friday, President Obama promised that the United States would have “a proportional response” to the attack against Sony. “They caused a lot of damage,” Obama said. “And we will respond. We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”
Lukashevich argued U.S. threats of retaliation were a bad move. "We perceive the U.S. threats to take revenge and calls on other nations to condemn the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as absolutely counterproductive and dangerous, as they only would add tensions to the already difficult situation on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to further escalation of conflict," Lukashevich said.
Sony initially pulled “The Interview” from distribution but faced harsh criticism, including from the White House, for the move. In an about-face, the studio released the movie to a number of independent theaters around the country and via online channels this week.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit Russia next year at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Relations between North Korea and Russia have been improving under Putin’s leadership. Russia has served as a mediator in the disputes over North Korea’s nuclear programs.