NATO Secretary General urges South Korea to allow direct arms exports to Ukraine

Seoul, South Korea

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday called on South Korea to reconsider its rule of not exporting arms to countries in conflict so it can help arm Ukraine to repel the Russian invasion.

“I urge the Republic of Korea to pursue and intensify the specific issue of military support,” he said during a question-and-answer session after a speech at the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies in Seoul.

“Several NATO allies who had a policy of never exporting arms to countries in conflict have now changed that policy,” Stoltenberg said, citing NATO candidates Germany, Norway and Sweden. , like those who changed their arms export policy to help Ukraine.

“After the brutal invasion of Ukraine, these countries changed their policy because they realized that when you face a brutal invasion where one great power – Russia – blatantly invades another like we saw it in Ukraine, if we believe in freedom, if we believe in democracy, if we don’t want autocracy and tyranny to win, then they need weapons.

“When the full-fledged invasion happened last year, many countries changed their policies because they realized that the only way to defend democracy, help Ukraine prevail and create conditions for a lasting peace was to provide military support.”

Military aid to Ukraine received a big boost last week when Germany announced it would send 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks in Kyiv, while allowing other countries that have Leopards, including Norway, to supply them.

The Leopard 2 is a new generation tank that is both agile and fast, although it is equipped with advanced protective armor and long-range firepower. He is considered one of the best in the world and superior to anything Russia has deployed in Ukraine.

In addition to the Leopards, Ukraine is expected to receive heavy armor from the United States, which sends 31 M1 Abrams tanks and the United Kingdom, which has pledged 14 Challenger tanks.

Some experts say that the South Korean K2 Panther is also part of this group of high-level tanks and could be useful for Ukraine.

But a South Korean presidential decree that enforces the country’s foreign trade law says its exports can only be used for “peaceful purposes” and “will not affect international peace, the maintenance of security and national security”.

South Korea is also a signatory to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, ratified in 2014 to tightly control who gets weapons and under what conditions they can be used.

But that doesn’t mean the South Korean arms industry doesn’t see a role in the Ukraine-Russia war.

In December, a US defense official told CNN that Washington intended to buy 100,000 artillery rounds from South Korean arms manufacturers to supply to Ukraine.

The cartridges will be transferred to Ukraine via the United States, allowing Seoul to honor its public promise not to send lethal aid to the war-torn country.

And one of Ukraine’s biggest military backers – Poland – last year signed a major arms deal with South Korea for hundreds of tanks and howitzers and dozens of military planes. chase.

The deal will allow Poland to replace many of the weapons that Warsaw has sent to Kyiv.

Stoltenberg said on Monday it was imperative that democracies back Ukraine for as long as it takes for Kyiv to win the war.

“Because if so [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin wins, the message for him and other authoritarian leaders will be that they can get what they want by using force,” he said. “It would make the world more dangerous and us more vulnerable.”


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