South Korea renews threat to send weapons to Ukraine

South Korea renews threat to send weapons to Ukraine

A Seoul security adviser has criticized Moscow’s strategic partnership agreement with Pyongyang

A South Korean national security adviser has warned that Russia could cross a “red line” by providing certain precision weaponry to the North, potentially eliminating the justification for Seoul’s decision to refrain from providing lethal military aid to Ukraine.

“I would like to emphasize that it all depends on what Russia will do,” senior national security official Chang Ho-jin said on Sunday in an interview with South Korea’s KBS TV. “Will there be any line remaining for us if Russia gives precision weapons to North Korea?”

Chang’s latest comments come three days after he told reporters that the South Korean government could reconsider its self-imposed ban on sending weapons to Ukraine. “Any cooperation that helps increase North Korea’s military power is a violation of the UN Security Council,” he said at a press briefing, after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a strategic partnership agreement with the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong-un.

The security adviser was more specific in Sunday’s interview, saying that providing “high-precision weapons” to North Korea would alter Seoul’s relationship with Moscow. “Russia’s recent actions have been gradually approaching a red line, which is why we’ve issued the warning,” Chang said. He added that the “composition of our weapons support for Ukraine could change, depending on how Russia responds in the future.”

Despite being a staunch US ally, South Korea has sought to avoid escalating tensions with Russia by sending only non-lethal aid to Ukraine since the conflict began in February 2022. Chang said managing the relationship between South Korea and Russia requires “corresponding efforts” on Moscow’s side.

“If Russia wants to restore and develop South Korea-Russia relations after the war, I would like to stress once again that it needs to carefully consider its actions,” he told KBS.

Putin insisted on Friday that South Korea has “nothing to worry about” concerning Russia’s new pact with Pyongyang, as long as it doesn’t carry out acts of aggression against the DPRK. He also warned that it would be a “big mistake” for Seoul to start sending weapons to Ukraine. If that were to happen, he added, Russia would make decisions that are “unlikely to please the current leadership of South Korea.”

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