Putin warns S. Korea providing weapons to Ukraine would be 'very big mistake'

By Park Sae-jin Posted : June 21, 2024, 15:17 Updated : June 21, 2024, 15:21
Russias President Vladimir Putin gestures on stage during an event with Vietnams President To Lam attended by the Vietnam Friendship Association and generations of Vietnamese alumni that studied in Russia at the Hanoi Opera House in Hanoi on June 20 2024     MANAN VATSYAYANAPool via REUTERS2024-06-20 210245  Yonhap
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures on stage during an event with Viet Nam's President To Lam, at the Hanoi Opera House in Hanoi on June 20, 2024. Reuters-Yonhap
SEOUL, June 21 (AJU PRESS) - Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that South Korea would be making a "very big mistake" if it opted to supply weapons to Ukraine. The warning came after South Korea said it is reviewing its options regarding providing weaponry to Kyiv, hinting a potential shift in its stance on the ongoing war in Ukraine.

After Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed a defense pact during their summit in Pyongyang on Wednesday, South Korea released a statement the following day suggesting that Seoul would "reconsider its options regarding the supply of weapons to Ukraine."

Until now, Seoul has only provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine due to concerns of damaging its ties with Russia. But the recent defense pact between the two isolated countries, which pledges to provides mutual assistance in case either country is attacked, has promoted Seoul to come up with more decisive measures concerning South Korea's national security.

For about a year, Russia has issued a series of warnings to South Korea, criticizing the country for providing ammunition to the United States. The ammunition, including artillery shells, was used to resupply the U.S. military's ammo inventory, which was running low due to the prolonged war in Ukraine.

Putin immediately issued a stern warning to Seoul, saying "It would be a big mistake." During a press conference shortly after he arrived in Hanoi following his state visit to Pyongyang, Putin said "I hope it will not happen. If it does, then we too will then make the respective decisions, which South Korea's current leadership is unlikely to be pleased with."

But according to a report by Russia's state news agency TASS, Putin apparently wants to avoid any further escalation. South Korea has nothing to worry about regarding the new pact because Russian military assistance "only arises if aggression is carried out against one of the signatories," Putin said. "As far as I know, [South Korea] does not plan aggression against [Pyongyang], which means there is no need to be afraid of our cooperation in this area."

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller expressed deep concerns over Putin's remarks. Russia's possible arms supplies to North Korea would "destabilize the Korean Peninsula," he said. Depending on the type of weapons provided, that "might violate U.N. Security Council resolutions that Russia itself has supported," the spokesperson added.
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