On Wednesday, Russia issued a warning to South Korea, cautioning against providing weapons to Ukraine and suggesting that it would offer military support to North Korea if Seoul proceeded with its plans.
In a message posted on Telegram, the Russian Embassy in South Korea noted that such a move would damage the relationship between the two nations that has been fostered over the past 30 years. The embassy also suggested that assisting Ukraine would negatively impact their cooperation regarding the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, referencing Russia’s longstanding support for the North Korean regime. The embassy urged the Republic of Korea to adopt a responsible approach to the matter.
The statement from Russia came after an interview given by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to Reuters, in which he suggested that his country may consider providing weapons to Ukraine in addition to the financial and humanitarian support already being offered.
Yoon noted that such a move would only be considered in response to a situation that the international community could not condone, such as a large-scale attack on civilians, a massacre, or a serious violation of the laws of war.
Deputy chair of the Russian National Security Council Dmitry Medvedev responded by writing on social media “I wonder what the residents of this nation would say when they see the newest example of Russian weapons in possession of their closest neighbors, our partners from the DPRK [North Korea]?”
President Yoon’s upcoming visit to the United States appears to have prompted a change in South Korea’s stance on providing lethal aid to Ukraine. While South Korea had previously rejected the idea, President Yoon’s recent announcement suggests a shift in the country’s position.
According to reports from South Korean media last week, the U.S. had approached South Korea for a possible “loan” of approximately 500,000 rounds of 155mm artillery gun ammunition. This type of munition is reportedly in high demand by Ukraine, which is currently facing a severe shortage of it in the ongoing conflict with Russia.