Russia and China called for calm and a return to diplomatic solutions as the United States and its allies pushed for stronger sanctions and discussed military responses to North Korea's weekend nuclear test.
"It is no exaggeration to say that peace in the region is being subjected to a serious test, and the threat of the standoff turning into a hot stage is big as never before," said Russia's United Nations Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia at a UN Security Council emergency meeting late on September 4.
Nebenzia said North Korea's underground detonation of what it called a hydrogen bomb, in defiance of UN resolutions barring such tests, "deserves the toughest of condemnations." But he said that sanctions have "failed to resolve this issue" and a return to dialogue is needed.
Russia "is calling on the international community not to give in to emotions and proceed in a calm and balanced manner," he said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov appeared to respond to a U.S. assertion earlier in the day that North Korea is "begging for war."
"It is very easy for countries outside the region to say the word 'war'," Peskov said. "But those countries living in the same region with [North Korea] have to be much wiser and far more balanced in their approaches to this very serious problem that causes our common concern," he said.
Both Russia and China share borders with North Korea. China's UN ambassador Liu Jieyi also said that the crisis was worsening and called for dialogue and a diplomatic solution.
"The situation on the peninsula is deteriorating constantly as we speak, falling into a vicious circle," said Liu. "The peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully. China will never allow chaos and war on the peninsula."
Russia backs China's proposal for a freeze on North Korea's nuclear and missile tests in exchange for a suspension of U.S.-South Korea military drills. China is the North's main economic partner and its only diplomatic ally.
Their comments came after the U.S. envoy to the United Nations said the United States will circulate a new, tougher sanctions resolution this week with the goal of holding a vote in the Security Council on September 10.
"Enough is enough. War is never something the United States wants. We don't want it now. But our country's patience is not unlimited," Haley told the Security Council.
Pyongyang "has slapped everybody in the face" with its latest nuclear test, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is "begging for war," she said.
Late on September 4, U.S. President Donald Trump held calls with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the White House said afterwards that "all options to address the North Korean threat are on the table."
Haley urged the Council to impose the strongest possible sanctions to deter North Korea, including possible curbs on oil supplies. The emergency session on September 4 was requested by the United States and its allies, Japan, France, Britain, and South Korea.
"The time has come to exhaust all diplomatic means before it is too late," she said.
The North trumpeted "perfect success" on September 3 in its sixth nuclear test explosion since 2006.
It appeared to be North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test, with South Korea estimating its strength at 50 kilotons -- five times the size of the North's previous nuclear test in September 2016 and more than three times bigger than the U.S. device that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Earlier on September 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, spoke by phone and resolutely condemned North Korea's latest nuclear test, the Kremlin said in a statement.
The Kremlin said Putin had told Moon that the only way to resolve the crisis was through diplomacy and talks.
Russia regarded Pyongyang's latest test as a serious threat to peace and security in the region, the Kremlin said.
Other Security Council members, including Japan, France and Britain, are calling for further sanctions. The Council already imposed its stiffest sanctions so far on North Korea last month.
Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft on September 4 again pushed for his proposal to cut back on North Korean laborers who work abroad and send their earnings back to the regime. Such guest workers mainly are employed in Russia and China.
The UN Security Council should sever all such funding for Pyongyang by "further restricting the unethical exploitation of North Korean workers overseas," Rycroft said.
Germany, which is not a permanent member of the Security Council, also urged stricter sanctions against the North.
Merkel told Trump during their phone conversation that she will press for stricter EU sanctions on Pyongyang, a German government statement said.
Merkel also talked on the phone to South Korean President Moon on September 4, and condemned Pyongyang's latest nuclear test, a German government spokesman said.
"In light of North Korea's unreasonable and confrontational stance, the chancellor and the president voiced their support for the international community to rapidly adopt additional stricter sanctions," spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
"The common objective is to avoid a military escalation and to reach a peaceful solution," Sebiert added.
Meanwhile, South Korea says it has seen indications that North Korea is preparing more missile launches, possibly an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The Defense Ministry said on September 4 that it was strengthening its U.S.-made THAAD missile-defense system, whose deployment south of Seoul has been strongly opposed by China and Russia.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa