Ukraine presses another country for weapons
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has requested tanks, planes and other weapons from South Korea, appealing to lawmakers for help in his country’s war with Russia, hours after Seoul’s defense ministry reiterated its policy against sending lethal aid to Kiev.
“The Republic of Korea can help Ukraine,” Zelensky said on Monday in a virtual address to South Korea’s National Assembly. “South Korea has various military equipment that can stop Russia’s vessels and missiles.”
The president thanked South Korea for its humanitarian assistance and non-lethal military aid, but he said Ukraine will need more weapons to defeat Russia. “I would be grateful if the Republic of Korea could help us stand up against Russia. If Ukraine receives such weapons, not only will they save the lives of ordinary people, but it will be a chance to save Ukraine, and not only Ukraine, but ensure other countries are not attacked by Russia.”
Zelensky’s speech followed a decision earlier on Monday by South Korean defense officials to reject Ukraine’s latest plea for weapons. Defense Minister Suh Wook told his Ukrainian counterpart, Aleksey Reznikov, that Seoul would retain its “principled stance” against giving weapons to the former Soviet republic. He cited concern over South Korea’s “security situation” and the need to avoid diminishing Seoul’s military readiness.
South Korea’s military aid to Ukraine so far has been limited to non-lethal supplies, such as bulletproof helmets and blankets. The country has joined its Western allies in sanctioning Moscow over the Ukraine conflict, such as banning financial transactions with Russia’s central bank. However, South Korea has been criticized for not going far enough in punishing the Kremlin as it seeks to avoid obliterating its economic relations with Russia.
Zelensky tried to persuade lawmakers on an emotional level, likening the current crisis to the 1950-1953 Korean War. “You experienced war in the 50s, and numerous civilians lost their lives. But South Korea overcame it. At the time, the international community provided a lot of help, but right now, there is no hope that Russia will stop on its own.”
Ukraine is ramping up its campaign for military aid even as the US accelerates shipments of weapons to Kiev. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan boasted on Sunday that Washington was sending weapons to Ukraine “every day.” He said US policy is to provide Ukraine all the weaponry that it needs – coordinating shipments from countries around the world – to repel the Russian invasion and help meet Washington’s goal of weakening and isolating Moscow.