Russia Criticizes South Korea’s Suggestion to Send Weapons to Ukraine

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had choice words to the South Korean government’s suggestion that it may start sending weapons to Ukraine’s government. She criticized the idea as “an openly hostile anti-Russian move.”

“Russia is conducting defensive military operations against the collective West, which has chosen the puppet regime in Kiev as an instrument of its hybrid proxy war against us. In this situation, we will consider any supplies of weapons to Ukraine, wherever they might come from, as an openly hostile anti-Russian move,” Zakharova stated on April 20, 2023. 

“Such steps will negatively impact bilateral relations with those states that take them and will be taken into account when elaborating Russia’s positions on issues concerning core security interests of the relevant countries,” she continued: “As for South Korea, it might be about the approaches to the settlement of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.”

Zakharova stressed that Russian military units only launch high-precision strikes at military assets in Ukraine, not at civilian infrastructure.

The foreign ministry spokeswoman’s comments came a day following South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s remarks hinting at the possibility of providing military aid to Ukraine in the case that Russian forces launch “a large-scale civilian attack.”

“If there is a situation the international community cannot condone, such as any large-scale attack on civilians, massacre or serious violation of the laws of war, it might be difficult for us to insist only on humanitarian or financial support,” Yoon said before visiting Washington DC. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also responded to Yoon’s comments declaring, “Unfortunately Seoul has taken a rather unfriendly stance. The start of arms supplies will indirectly mean a certain stage of involvement in this conflict.”

Yoon’s comments were also criticized by Deputy Chairman of Russian National Security Council Dmitry Medvedev. He threatened to have the Russian government send advanced armaments to North Korea — South Korea’s primary rival — if it proceeds to arm Ukraine. 

“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 [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]?” Medvedev said on social media on April 19

Press TV reported that “South Korea, which is a major producer of artillery ammunition, has supplied Ukraine with non-lethal and humanitarian assistance but has so far ruled out military aid to Kiev, citing its policy against supplying weapons to war zones.”

When Russia launched its special military operation on February 22, 2022, South Korea maintained a relatively neutral stance out of fear of Russian companies pulling out of the country and Russia also responding with increased military aid to South Korea’s rival in the north. 

According to South Korean media reports, South Korean authorities entertained the idea of “loaning” the US roughly 500,000 rounds for 155mm artillery guns amid reports that Ukraine desperately needs these munitions in its uphill struggle against Russia. 

South Korea would be wise to exercise some degree of realism here. What’s taking place in Ukraine is none of its concern. Instead, it should pursue its national interest by pursuing multipolarity and working with the relevant Eurasian actors to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula. Getting the US involved in these matters or joining its geopolitical ventures is just asking for all sorts of trouble.

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