Putin threatens to arm North Korea if South Korea goes ahead with plans to supply weapons to Ukraine

Days after signing a new mutual defence pact with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, Russian president Vladimir Putin has threatened to arm North Korea if South Korea goes ahead with plans to supply weapons to Ukraine.

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South Korea, which has so far only provided non-lethal aid to Ukraine, said it was considering arming Kyiv in response to a newly forged alliance between Moscow and Pyongyang reminiscent of the Cold War days.

Putin said South Korea arming Ukraine would be a “very big mistake.”

“If this happens, then we will also make appropriate decisions that the current leadership of South Korea would hardly like,” he said during his state visit to Vietnam on Thursday (Vietnam time) which immediately followed the lavish Pyongyang visit.

 

“We reserve our right to supply weapons to other regions of the world,” he added.

The Russian president on Saturday added more sabre-rattling on Friday, when he said that Russia will continue to develop its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent.

Putin on Wednesday paid a rare visit to his North Korean counterpart in Pyongyang where the two leaders signed a comprehensive strategic partnership that allows for mutual defence in case of an attack as well as military technology transfers that could aid Putin’s war in Ukraine.

The partnership angered officials in Seoul, with South Korean national security advisor Chang Ho-Jin saying  “we plan to reconsider the issue of arms support to Ukraine.”

Responding, Putin drew an equivalence between the West’s arming of Ukraine and raised the prospect of him doing the same for North Korea.

“As for where these weapons will end up, to this we can also say: ‘Well, the Westerners supply weapons to Ukraine’ and say ‘We don’t even control anything here, and it doesn’t matter how they are used’,” he said.

“So we can put it in the similar way: ‘We have supplied something to somebody and are not in control over anything after that’.”

Putin’s comments will surely escalate tensions between key U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, and North Korea.

“It is incredibly concerning,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a news conference Thursday. “It would destabilize the Korean Peninsula,” he said.

Commenting on the prospect of South Korea arming Ukraine, Miller said “That is a decision for every country to make in terms of whether they are going to supply weapons to Ukraine.”

 

The Korean countries technically remained at war since the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

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