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Korean government reviews arms aid to Ukraine

Posted June. 09, 2022 08:15,   

Updated June. 09, 2022 08:15


The Korean government decided to engage in an active review over the possible arms aid to Ukraine. The government is expected to decide on whether to provide aid around mid-June after reviewing the expert report on the expected benefits from arms aid by next week and then listen to the feedback of related officials from the government, ruling party, and academia. As President Yoon Suk-yeol is highly likely to participate in the NATO Summit scheduled for June 29, and 30 in Madrid, Spain, and as the Korean government set the policy direction to actively participate in the re-construction of Ukraine after the war, opinions are being alleged raised inside the government that arms aid prior to such steps is inevitable.

Based on the Dong-A Ilbo coverage as of Wednesday, the Korean government kept its internal position that arms aid is technically difficult until last month. In other words, providing Ukraine with arms beyond humanitarian aid was deemed difficult considering concerns over retaliation from Russia. Korea has so far offered only humanitarian aid including 3 billion won worth of non-lethal military war supplies and 40 million dollars (about 50 billion won) worth of first-aid kits

However, a key Korean government official explained that now we can no longer avoid reviewing arms aid for not only the United States and Europe but also Canada and Australia are engaging in active arms support and as Ukraine has repeatedly asked for arms support to Korea. On Tuesday, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Dmytro Senik commented that he asked for arms aid to the Korean government after he met Korean Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon.

The U.S. government is known to be taking rather aggressive moves in communicating its messages on Ukraine aid to the Korean government. Another government official said, “The United States did not precisely say arms support, but succeeding the economic sanction against Russia, this time, the arms aid could possibly become a symbolic measure to reconfirm‎ future alliance.” Some are raising the opinions that arms aid to Ukraine is necessary considering the political and diplomatic position of the Korean government when President Yoon Suk-yeol attends NATO Summit.

Provided however, the Korean government first plans to take caution to compare the pros and cons of arms aid meticulously as the internal and external pressure resulting from arms aid will be significant. The government official was quoted, “We will look into matters including how desperate the situation in Ukraine is, how important arms aid is in cooperating with the Western world, and whether there are correlations between arms support and participation in post war reconstruction.”

Jin-Woo Shin niceshin@donga.com