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Seoul says arms aid to Ukraine ‘depends on Russia’s reaction’

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday. Putin is on an official visit to Vietnam after his visit to North Korea. (EPA-Yonhap)

South Korea will draw up plans to send weapons to Ukraine, depending on how Russia reacts to a statement by Seoul, which suggested a review of arms support in response to developing relations between Russia and North Korea, on Thursday, according to the office presidential on Friday.

The office added that many options could be considered regarding arms aid to Ukraine and that South Korea would continue its “comprehensive support” to Ukraine.

But Seoul has denied reports that it is prioritizing the export of munitions, such as 155mm artillery shells and anti-tank guided missiles, to Ukraine.

This came a day after South Korea’s national security adviser Chang Ho-jin told reporters on Thursday that Seoul would “reconsider the issue of providing arms to Ukraine” in response to North Korea’s public announcement of the pact signed by its leader, Kim Jong-un, with Russia. President Vladimir Putin. Chang did not specify whether the weapons South Korea believes it is supplying to Ukraine are lethal or non-lethal.

Chang also said Seoul would impose sanctions on four ships, five organizations and eight individuals allegedly involved in the exchange of arms and oil between North Korea and Russia.

In response to Chang’s comments, Putin told a news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam during his state visit there, that he would take “appropriate decisions” that did not “satisfy” President Yoon Suk Yeol.

“As for supplying lethal weapons to the war zone in Ukraine, that would be a very big mistake,” Putin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday. Putin is on an official visit to Vietnam after his visit to North Korea. (EPA-Yonhap)

Putin’s remarks drew condemnation from Seoul’s allies.

White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that the pact “is a cause for concern for any country that cares about maintaining peace and stability,” adding that concern “would be shared by (China).”

Republican US Senator Roger Wicker told Congress on Thursday that the US should “consider nuclear burden-sharing agreements” with South Korea, Japan and Australia and “explore redeploying nuclear weapons where they have been in the past” to drive out security concerns on the Korean Peninsula.

According to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry in a statement on Friday, Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul, during his visit to New York, held telephone talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday evening.

According to Seoul, Cho asked Blinken to cooperate closely to bring strong action from the international community against any violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Blinken said the US will review options to address the threat posed by North Korea and Russia to world peace and stability.

Cho also spoke to his Japanese counterpart Yoko Kamikawa by phone the same day to discuss countermeasures and won Kamikawa’s support for cooperation both bilaterally and between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo, according to the ministry.

By Son Ji-hyoung ([email protected])