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South Korea concerned over Russia-North Korea arms talks, hints at sanctions

by Martin Fornusek September 15, 2023 9:13 AM 3 min read
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin announces the government's solution to a wartime labor compensation dispute with Japan, at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on March 6, 2023. (Photo credit: Kyodo News via Getty Images)
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South Korea grows worried due to military cooperation talks between Russia and North Korea and is not excluding the possibility of unilateral sanctions against the two countries, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Sept. 15, citing South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin.

Seoul's statement comes shortly after the meeting between the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Russia earlier this week, reportedly to discuss Pyongyang's military support for the Kremlin's war against Ukraine.

"North Korea reaching any agreement related to the arms trade with Russia through their summit would be an extremely serious threat to security and peace on the Korean Peninsula," South Korea's top diplomat reportedly told journalists at a forum in Seoul.

When asked whether Seoul is considering unilateral sanctions against Moscow or Pyongyang, the minister responded that the government is "reviewing all possible measures," according to Yonhap.

Park noted that any military cooperation with North Korea, including arms sales deals, would constitute a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang.

South Korea has previously joined international sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The country regularly imposes sanctions against North Korea over nuclear and missile threats or other illicit activities.

Putin, Kim meet at Russian cosmodrome ahead of expected arms talks
Russian President Vladimir Putin met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s far-eastern Amur Oblast for official talks, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Sept. 13.

The North Korean leader met Putin in Russia's far-eastern Amur Oblast for talks on Sept. 13. According to the Kremlin, the meeting addressed possible cooperation between the two countries in the field of missile and space technology.

However, Washington believes that Russia is seeking to secure North Korean arms supplies to bolster its floundering invasion of Ukraine.

In the spring of 2023, Moscow reportedly approached Pyongyang with the offer of food supplies in exchange for weapons. North Korea has been heavily militarized since the end of the war with its Southern Korean neighbors in 1953 but suffers from chronic food shortages.

Earlier in August, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea's capital to convince the country's leadership to provide artillery ammunition that Russian forces could use in its war against Ukraine.

Yonhap reported on Sept. 14 that according to the South Korean intelligence reports, there have been recorded cases of Russian forces using unspecified types of North Korean weaponry on the battlefield in Ukraine.

South Korea pledges $2.3 billion in aid for Ukraine
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol pledged $2.3 billion in aid for Ukraine to help the country rebuild itself and provide humanitarian support to those in need amid Russia’s ongoing full-scale war, Seoul-based news agency Yonhap reported on Sept. 10.
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