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Putin threatens a response if South Korea sends arms to Ukraine

by Martin Fornusek June 20, 2024 8:43 PM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin during a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, on June 20, 2024. (The Kremlin press service/Telegram)
This audio is created with AI assistance

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Russia will take decisions that are "unlikely to please South Korea" if Seoul decides to send arms to Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters at the end of his visit to Vietnam on June 20.

Separately, Putin said he does not exclude the possibility of sending arms to North Korea based on the recently signed strategic partnership agreement but claimed that South Korea has nothing to worry about as Moscow will arm Pyongyang only if it is attacked.

"As for the supply of lethal weapons to the combat zone, to Ukraine, this would be a very big mistake," Putin said in Hanoi, referring to potential supplies by South Korea.

"I hope that this will not happen. If this happens, then we will also take appropriate decisions that are unlikely to please South Korea's current leadership," the Russian leader said without elaborating on specific steps.

The Kremlin chief visited North Korea earlier this week, signing a new strategic partnership agreement with the country's leader, Kim Jong Un.

Under the treaty, the two countries pledged to provide aid to one another if either was attacked. In response, South Korea announced it would reconsider its policy of not directly supplying Ukraine with arms.

The Korean peninsula has been divided since the war in the 1950s, and both states view each other with suspicion, with North Korea repeatedly issuing threats and provocations against its southern neighbor.

While Seoul has supplied Kyiv with humanitarian aid and allegedly with indirect artillery ammunition supplies via the U.S., North Korea has provided Russia with extensive arms packages, including ballistic missiles and millions of shells.

In his speech, Putin further praised North Korea and denounced the international sanctions regime imposed against the country, comparing it to the Axis powers' siege of Leningrad in World War II.

Sanctions against North Korea are mostly connected to the country's nuclear arms development.

Ties between North Korea and Russia have deepened amid the Western efforts to isolate Moscow during its war against Ukraine. Observers point out that Putin's growing reliance on the poor pariah country implies the Russian leader is growing "rather desperate."

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