South Korea could arm Ukraine after Russia-North Korea deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin (CL) and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un attend a welcoming ceremony June 19, 2024 in Pyongyang, North Korea.
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  • South Korea says it may start sending weapons to Ukraine.
  • This came after Russia signed a security pact with North Korea.
  • Russia's alliance with North Korea has heightened tensions in the region.

South Korea said it could send weapons to Ukraine after Russia signed a security deal with Seoul's biggest regional foe, North Korea.

“We will reconsider the issue of supplying weapons to Ukraine,” South Korean national security adviser Chang Ho-jin told reporters Thursday evening, after the Russian president signed the agreement with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.

“Any cooperation that contributes to increasing North Korea's military power constitutes a violation of UN Security Council rules,” Chang added. “It makes no sense to promise military cooperation, assuming a prior strike by the international community which will not take place.”

Putin this week became the first Russian leader to visit North Korea in a quarter-century, cementing an alliance with the pariah state.

This partnership has allowed North Korea to provide Russia with badly needed artillery for its war in Ukraine. In exchange, Russia reportedly provided North Korea with satellite technology.

The security agreement signed by the leaders, in which they pledged to provide each other with military support in the event of conflict, has heightened tensions in East Asia, where North Korea has long threatened regional allies of the United States, South Korea and Japan, from an attack.

North Korea is under international sanctions to restrict its nuclear weapons program, and although Russia remains committed to maintaining the sanctions on paper, critics say they undermine attempts to isolate Korea North.

In March, Russian diplomats effectively disbanded the UN committee monitoring North Korean sanctions.

South Korea summoned Russia's ambassador on Friday over the deal, with South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemning the deal as a threat to stability and regional security.

Putin, during a trip to Vietnam on Friday, warned South Korea against arming Ukraine in response, saying it would be a “big mistake.”

Moscow “will… [make] “Decisions that are unlikely to please the current leaders of South Korea” if they continue and send weapons to Ukraine, Putin said, BBC News reported.

But he also said South Korea had “nothing to fear” from the new deal as long as it did not commit acts of aggression against North Korea.

South Korea is among the U.S. allies that have provided aid to Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion, but so far has not supplied weapons to kyiv.

Analysts at the US think tank Institute for the Study of War say Russia is trying to recreate Cold War-era alliances to counter US global power.

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