Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has suggested that North Korea could be supplied with the “latest” Russian weapons after South Korea hinted it could provide military aid to Ukraine.
“New parties” have emerged to “help our enemies,” Medvedev, a vocal supporter of the war in Ukraine, wrote on Telegram on Wednesday.
Medvedev pointed to comments made by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol earlier this week, who suggested that “large scale” Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilians could change Seoul’s long-held opposition to providing lethal aid to Ukraine.
“If there is a situation the international community cannot condone, such as any large-scale attack on civilians, massacre or serious violation of the laws of war, it might be difficult for us to insist only on humanitarian or financial support,” Yoon told the Reuters news agency.
Yoon said there “won’t be limitations” on support to “defend and restore a country that’s been illegally invaded both under international and domestic law,” before adding that Seoul would bear in mind “our relationship with the parties engaged in the war and developments in the battlefield” to take the “most appropriate measures.”
Moscow quickly condemned the comments, calling them a “rather unfriendly position.”
“The start of arms deliveries will obliquely mean a certain stage of involvement in this conflict,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told a media briefing.
Seoul’s presidential office then said it would not “comment on the Kremlin’s remarks regarding a hypothetical situation,” South Korean media reported.
South Korea, a major artillery shells manufacturer, has trod a fine line throughout the ongoing war in Ukraine. It has consented to supplying Kyiv with humanitarian aid, but has been wary of damaging its relationship with Russia, amid concerns about the possibility of Moscow supporting North Korea.
Seoul’s reluctance to send military aid to Ukraine has been influenced by concerns over Russia possibly providing Pyongyang with assistance with its nuclear weapons program.
Appearing to reference this concern, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that any weapons deliveries to Ukraine would be considered “an openly hostile anti-Russian move” that would “negatively impact bilateral relations.”
Supplying arms to Ukraine “will be taken into account when elaborating Russia’s positions on issues concerning core security interests of the relevant countries,” Zakharova said.
“As for South Korea, it might be about the approaches to the settlement of the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” she said.
“I wonder what the inhabitants of this country will say when they see the latest samples of Russian weapons from their closest neighbors—our partners from the DPRK? [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea],” Medvedev said in his Telegram post. He did not specify which weapons he was referring to.
Supplying weapons to Ukraine “would definitely ruin Russian-Korean relations that have seen constructive development for the benefit of both nations over the last three decades,” Russia’s embassy in Seoul told the Korean Yonhap news agency.
Earlier this month, leaked Pentagon documents revealed a conversation between two senior Seoul officials discussing South Korea’s policy of not exporting arms to countries at war and expressing anxiety about the destination of shells supplied to the U.S.
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