© Reuters. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol shake fingers after a joint assertion, amid Russia’s assault on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine July 15, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
By Joyce Lee and Olena Harmash
SEOUL/KYIV (Reuters) -South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol mentioned on Saturday his nation will present a much bigger batch of army provides and humanitarian support to Ukraine throughout a go to to Kyiv for a gathering with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The shock journey got here after Yoon attended a NATO alliance summit in Lithuania and visited Poland this week, the place he expressed solidarity with Ukraine in opposition to Russia’s invasion.
South Korea is a U.S. ally and the world’s ninth largest arms exporter, based on the Stockholm Worldwide Peace Analysis Institute (SIPRI) assume tank. However additionally it is cautious of Russia’s affect over North Korea and has been resisting Western strain to assist arm Ukraine immediately.
In a press convention, Yoon mentioned South Korea plans to offer “a bigger scale of army provides” to Ukraine this 12 months, following final 12 months’s provision of non-lethal provides resembling physique armour and helmets. He didn’t give extra particulars.
Yoon mentioned South Korea additionally plans to offer Ukraine with $150 million in humanitarian support this 12 months, following about $100 million in 2022.
It could additionally cooperate with Kyiv in tasks resembling infrastructure building, which could be backed by concessionary loans from South Korea, he mentioned.
“We’re discussing every thing that’s essential for the traditional and secure life of individuals,” Zelenskiy mentioned, thanking Yoon for “highly effective” assist.
Yoon’s workplace mentioned he additionally visited Bucha and Irpin, small cities close to the capital the place Russian troopers are accused of conflict crimes in opposition to civilians. Moscow denies that.
Yoon mentioned this week his administration was getting ready to ship demining gear and ambulances, following a request from Ukraine, and can be a part of NATO’s support fund for Ukraine.
Yoon’s go to is critical as a result of few different Asian leaders have visited Ukraine, mentioned Ramon Pacheco Pardo, the Korea chair on the Brussels College of Governance analysis organisation.
How a lot of a coverage shift in direction of offering extra assist for Ukraine stays to be seen, he added, however the journey reveals Kyiv’s approval for support despatched up to now.
“If he’s going it is as a result of Zelenskiy allowed him to go, as a result of he feels Korea is doing sufficient to warrant it,” Pacheco Pardo mentioned, including that it additionally advised South Korea could also be providing extra assist behind the scenes.
Zelenskiy requested Yoon to spice up army assist after they first met in Might. Yoon mentioned on Saturday South Korea has delivered security gear and humanitarian support that Ukraine wants, since Might, together with mine detectors.
South Korea’s defence ministry has mentioned it was discussing exporting ammunition to the U.S., however mentioned elements of a media report that Seoul had agreed to ship artillery rounds to the U.S. for supply to Ukraine had been inaccurate.
In 2022, South Korea’s arms gross sales jumped to greater than $17 billion from $7.25 billion the 12 months earlier than, together with a $13.7 billion arms cope with Poland – Seoul’s largest ever – supplying rocket launchers and fighter jets.
South Korean firms and entities in Ukraine and in different international locations signed agreements on Friday to assist with reconstruction, Seoul’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport mentioned in a press release.