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Yoon: “Russia Needs to Judge Carefully Who Is More Important Between North and South Korea”

Yoon: “Russia Needs to Judge Carefully Who Is More Important Between North and South Korea”

Posted July. 09, 2024 07:56,   

Updated July. 09, 2024 07:56


President Yoon Suk Yeol emphasized that the future of Korea-Russia relations hinges entirely on Russia’s attitude, urging Moscow to decide whether North or South Korea is more important and necessary.

This statement was made in a written interview with Reuters, released ahead of President Yoon's visit to the United States for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit. The President's Office reported this on the 8th, interpreting it as a warning to Russia amidst its close ties with North Korea.

In the interview, President Yoon described North Korea as a significant menace to the international community. He noted that military cooperation between Russia and North Korea poses a distinct threat and a grave challenge to the peace and security of both the Korean Peninsula and Europe. He warned that if Russia continues to violate UN resolutions, it will inevitably negatively impact Korea-Russia relations.

President Yoon also indicated that South Korea's support for Ukraine will be influenced by the extent of cooperation between Russia and North Korea, including arms trade, military technology transfer, and strategic material support. He confirmed the potential for arms support to Ukraine. This follows National Security Office Director Jang Ho-jin's statement last month that South Korea might reconsider arms support to Ukraine based on the level of North Korea-Russia cooperation.

Furthermore, President Yoon highlighted the importance of firmly establishing the ROK-U.S. extended deterrence system (nuclear umbrella) as the most realistic and desirable solution to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. He affirmed that the ROK-U.S. alliance has maintained solid bipartisan support in the U.S. for over 70 years and is expected to remain strong. The government plans to enhance nuclear deterrence and response capabilities against North Korea through the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG), following the 'Washington Declaration' from the state visit to the U.S. last April.

Additionally, President Yoon announced plans to elevate cooperation with NATO by inviting NATO allies to a cyber defense exercise (APEX) hosted by the Korean intelligence agency in Seoul this September. He also mentioned that in collaboration with the Netherlands, Korea will host the 'High-Level Conference on Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)' in Seoul the same month.

President Yoon will depart on this day, visit the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii on the 8th and 9th (local time), and then attend the NATO Summit in Washington on the 10th and 11th. The NATO summit is expected to focus on recent military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, alongside the Russia-Ukraine war, and is anticipated to issue a joint message condemning these actions.

Na-Ri Shin journari@donga.com