The Russian president said it was a mistake to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear missile programme and he favoured negotiation instead.
“It is essential to resolve the region’s problems through direct dialogue involving all sides without advancing any preconditions,” he wrote on the Kremlin website ahead of a visit to China. “Provocations, pressure and bellicose and offensive rhetoric is the road to nowhere,” he added.
The situation had deteriorated so much it was now “balanced on the verge of a large-scale conflict”, said the Russian leader.
North Korea has been developing a nuclear missile capable of hitting America and recently threatened to target rockets at the US Pacific island of Guam.
On Monday, the rogue state, which sees joint US-South Korea military manoeuvres as preparation for invasion, fired a missile over Japan.
Putin said a plan by Moscow and Beijing, that would involve North Korea halting its missile programme in exchange for the US and South Korea ending large-scale war games, was a way to gradually reduce tensions.
The United Nations has imposed new sanctions on North Korea in response to two longrange missile launches in July.
Putin’s warning echoes his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who told US counterpart Rex Tillerson of “the need to refrain from military steps that may have unpredictable consequences”.
Meanwhile, France’s foreign minister said that North Korea would have the capability to send long-range ballistic missiles in a few months and urged China to be more active diplomatically.