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South Korea says it will 'reconsider' providing weapons to Ukraine

South Korea has begun to rethink its policy on providing weapons to Ukraine as a concrete partnership grows between Russia and North Korea.

In a statement from Seoul, the government plans to “reconsider” a long-standing principle that bars the sale of weapons to countries in the middle of conflict. South Korea has further condemned any alliance between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, declaring their relationship a United Nations violation and national security threat.

“Any cooperation that directly or indirectly helps stretch North Korea's military capabilities is a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions,” said Chang Ho-jin, South Korea's national security adviser.

These concerns stem from a recent visit by Putin to Pyongyang. At a summit on Wednesday, the two countries signed a pact, promising mutual assistance if either country faces “aggression” from enemies. Putin stated he would “not rule out” military cooperation with North Korea, which, if fulfilled, would violate sanctions imposed by the UN during Kim's attempts at a nuclear program.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo during a signing ceremony of the new partnership in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Labeling the alliance as a “breakthrough,” Kim praised Putin as the “dearest friend of the Korean people.” In response to the war with Ukraine, he assured Moscow that North Korea “expresses full support and solidarity to the Russian government.”

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For years, the Americans and Ukrainians have pressured the South Koreans to provide military assistance to Kyiv, but with each plea, they have declined. No longer dependent on American weapons manufacturing, South Korea has grown to become the world's eighth-largest military supplier. Churning out everything from tanks to submarines, small arms to self-propelled howitzers, South Korea exports its weapons across the globe, including to Ukraine's treasured ally, Poland.

Despite this wide net, legislation clearly outlines that no weapons will be sold to countries in conflict.

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