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Seoul warns Russia over North Korea-supplied weapons

Ukrainian soldiers, of 43rd artillery brigade, fire by 2s7 self-propelled howitzer towards Russian positions at the frontline in Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday, June 24, 2024.
Ukrainian soldiers, of 43rd artillery brigade, fire by 2s7 self-propelled howitzer towards Russian positions at the frontline in Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday, June 24, 2024. Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Angela Skujins with AP
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The warning came at a time when Russia forced 10,000 recently naturalised citizens to fight in the war in Ukraine, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the battered eastern Donetsk region.


South Korean government officials said Russia should not “make any mistakes” that could damage relations between the two countries.

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lim Soo-suk made the comments on Thursday at a press conference in Seoul and was addressing recent remarks by Russian foreign ministry official Maria Zakharova, who cautioned Seoul against supplying arms to Ukraine.

“We hope that Russia gives up its dependency on North Korea and acts like a permanent member of UN Security Council,” Lim Soo-suk said.

The warning shot comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin recently strengthened ties with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on a visit to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang earlier this month.

The two leaders signed a pact declaring the countries would protect one another from foreign aggression. Both nations have frosty relations with the West and are under numerous sanctions.

Meanwhile, Russian news reports claim that roughly 10,000 recently minted Russian citizens have been sent into war with Ukraine.

According to the Russian news agency Interfax, Kremlin official Alexander Bastrykin said that recent citizenship recipients must register with the military and take part in the war.

“Already about 10,000 of them" have been sent to fight in Ukraine, Bastrykin said.

“Investigators” had also allegedly caught and forcibly registered 30,000 recent citizens who failed to sign up to the military, the investigative Committee chairman added.

Other media reports claim that South Korea anticipates North Korea sending engineers and military personnel to the occupied Donetsk Oblast region in Ukraine to rebuild Russian infrastructure. South Korean broadcaster TV Chosun recently reported that a government official claimed that North Korean workers would be sent in as early as July 2024.

Russia illegally annexed parts of Donetsk and three other regions in 2022, shortly after it invaded Ukraine.

US think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said it is “yet to observe” reports suggesting that North Korean personnel intend to participate in Ukraine combat operations – but engineering support from the highly isolated country could “free up Russian combat power”.

This would be for frontline operations and other efforts supporting Russia in its expansion of military infrastructure and defensive fortifications in occupied Ukraine," the organisation said in an online statement.

The news comes a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his Commander in Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi visited troops in the eastern Donetsk region.

Kyiv forces in the region have weathered fierce Russian ground and air assaults in recent months, with the Kremlin's army escalating efforts to dislodge exhausted and outgunned Ukrainian forces holding east and northeast areas. 

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