North Korea calls NATO chief’s visit to Seoul a ‘prelude’ to war

North Korean state media on Monday denounced NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s visit to South Korea as a “prelude to confrontation and war”. During his visit, Stoltenberg urged South Korea to “escalate the specific issue of military support” to Ukraine.

“The NATO Secretary General’s trip to South Korea and Japan is a prelude to confrontation and war as it brings dark clouds of a ‘new cold war’ to the Asia-Pacific region” said North Korean political scientist Kim Tong-myong. accused in an article published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a media outlet controlled by the North Korean regime.

Kim claimed that NATO had turned Ukraine into a “proxy war theater” against Russia and claimed that Stoltenberg was attempting the same strategy against North Korea by building an Asian version of NATO.

On Saturday, dictator Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, denounced the United States for promising to send 31 advanced main battle tanks to Ukraine. Kim said the offer crossed a “red line” and promised that North Korea would “stand in the same trench” as the Russians against the United States.

“I express my deep concern over the escalation of the war situation by the United States by providing Ukraine with military equipment for a ground offensive,” Kim said in a statement released by KCNA.

On Sunday, a senior North Korean official refuse US allegations that Pyongyang is arms supply to the infamous Russian Wagner Group, a group of brutal mercenaries fighting on behalf of Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Kwon Jong-gun, director of the North Korean Department of American Affairs, warned that the Biden administration is courting a “truly undesirable outcome” by spreading a “baseless rumor of arms trafficking between the DPRK and Russia.”

“It is an illegal act to question the legitimate right to national defense of a sovereign state. Moreover, trying to tarnish the DPRK’s image by fabricating a non-existent thing is a serious provocation that can never be allowed and can only trigger its reaction,” he said.

DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North Korean regime’s preferred name for itself.

North Korea and Syria are the only two countries to officially accept Putin’s unilateral creation of two Russian-dominated “independent republics” in eastern Ukraine. Before detailing its allegations that Pyongyang gave weapons to the Wagner group, the Biden administration accused North Korea to secretly ship artillery shells to Russia for use in Ukraine.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov was on the same page as Pyongyang, warning the United States not to proceed with planned nuclear drills with South Korea.

“Particularly unpleasant consequences would follow if US nuclear weapons returned to the southern Korean peninsula. This possibility has begun to be openly discussed in the Republic of Korea. Such a development would inevitably have to be factored into Russian defense planning. And, I think, China too,” growled Lavrov.

During his visit to Seoul on Monday, NATO chief Stoltenberg request South Korea needs to lift its arms export restrictions so it can do more to help Ukrainians, as Germany, Norway and Sweden have done.

A Leopard 2 tank is pictured during a demonstration event organized for the media by the German Bundeswehr in Munster near Hanover, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

“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 guns,” Stoltenberg said.

“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 win and to create the conditions for a lasting peace was to provide military support,” he said.

“If President Putin wins, the message to him and other authoritarian leaders will be that they can get what they want through the use of force. It would make the world more dangerous and us more vulnerable,” he warned.

In December, South Korea made its first delivery of ten Black Panther K2 tanks in Poland, responding to an urgent order placed by Polish President Andrzej Duda “in the face of Russian aggression and the war in Ukraine”.

Poland has expressed interest in replacing Soviet-era equipment sold to the Ukrainians with state-of-the-art South Korean weapons, including K2 tanks, 24 Thunder K9 howitzers delivered alongside them and soon Chunmoo K239 rocket launchers, which are scheduled for delivery in 2023.

“There are not many companies in the world capable of producing a huge number of weapons in a fixed time. South Korea is one of the few that has a stable production capacity thanks to its willingness to preparing for war over the past 70 years, not to mention cost competitiveness,” said Yang Wook, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. Herald of Korea in October.

Other analysts told the Herald of Korea that South Korea can deliver K2 tanks at about half the price of the legendary German Leopard 2, and that it can produce several times more in a year. These would be ideal features for sales to Ukraine, or perhaps for more resupply sales to Poland, if Duda chooses to pass the first shipments of South Korean equipment to the Ukrainians instead of holding onto them.

In November, the United States purchased 100,000 155mm artillery shells from South Korea for delivery to Ukraine.

The third-party purchase was necessary because South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, keen to preserve good relations with Moscow, publicly pledged to sell only “humanitarian and peaceful aid to Ukraine, in solidarity with the international community, but never lethal weapons”. or such things.

On Monday, a South Korean soldier accidentally shot a machine gun near the North Korean border, prompting hasty calls to Pyongyang to prevent the situation from escalating.

According to South Korean military officials, the incident happened during a training exercise in the southern border province of Gangwon. The four live ammunition accidentally fired landed on the South Korean side of the border, causing no injuries or damage.

“No particular signs have been detected on the north side, and an investigation is ongoing into the exact circumstances of the incident,” a South Korean official said.


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