South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has denied providing any lethal weapons to Ukraine, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning that such a move would destroy their bilateral relations.
Putin made the remark at a conference in Moscow on Thursday, accusing the West of inciting the conflict in Ukraine and emphasizing that supplying weapons to Ukraine would destroy relations, equating such a move to Moscow sending arms to North Korea.
“We’ve provided humanitarian and peaceful assistance to Ukraine in solidarity with the international community but never lethal weapons or any such things,” Yoon told reporters on Friday, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
“But in any case, it’s a matter of our sovereignty, and I’d like you to know that we are trying to maintain peaceful and good relations with all countries around the world, including Russia,” he said.
According to Yonhap, Seoul has sent bulletproof vests, helmets, and other non-lethal military and medical supplies to Ukraine while declining Kyiv’s request for weapons.
(LEAD) Yoon says S. Korea has never provided lethal weapons to Ukraine https://t.co/x2JN1WRAj8
— Yonhap News Agency (@YonhapNews) October 28, 2022
South Korea, a US ally, has maintained that it will not provide Ukraine with lethal aid and has sought to avoid antagonizing Russia for economic reasons as well as the influence Moscow has over North Korea.
Putin’s eight-month-long invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands, displaced millions, shook the global economy, and reopened Cold War-era divisions.
At a conference in Moscow on Thursday, Putin defended his war and blamed the US and Western countries for inciting the conflict in Ukraine, saying the West was engaging in a “dangerous, bloody, and dirty” geopolitical game that was causing havoc around the world.
Putin had this message for South Korea: “How would the Republic of Korea react to the fact if we started, if we resume cooperation with North Korea in this area?”
When asked what he would like to tell people in Europe and the United States, Putin said they should know Russia is not their enemy.
“Russia is your friend and we have been doing everything for decades and are ready to do everything in the future in order to strengthen our relations,” he said.
Putin also criticized the US for intervening in China’s dispute with Taiwan, which he called “contrary to common sense and logic”.
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