Putin threatens South Korea: You will make a "Big Mistake"

Putin told reporters in Vietnam that Moscow would make decisions that the current South Korean leadership would likely not like if Seoul decided to supply weapons to Kiev

by Sededin Dedovic
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Putin threatens South Korea: You will make a "Big Mistake"
© Burak Kara / Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned South Korea that it would be a "big mistake" to send weapons to Ukraine for the war against Moscow. Seoul previously announced it would reconsider its policy prohibiting direct arms shipments to Ukraine in response to a defense agreement signed between North Korea and Russia.

Speaking to reporters in Vietnam, Putin stated that Moscow would make decisions unlikely to please South Korea's current leadership if Seoul decides to supply weapons to Kyiv, as reported by the BBC. He added that Moscow is prepared to arm Pyongyang if the US and its allies continue to provide Ukraine with weapons.

"Those supplying these weapons believe they are not at war with us. I said, including to Pyongyang, that we then retain the right to supply weapons to other regions of the world," Putin said. Seoul has previously condemned the Russia-North Korea agreement as a threat to its national security.

Following Putin's statements, the South Korean president's office announced today that it would consider "various options" for supplying weapons to Ukraine, with its stance depending on how Russia approaches this issue. Additionally, South Korea summoned Russian Ambassador Georgy Zinovyev in protest over the agreement, demanding that Moscow "immediately cease" military cooperation with Pyongyang.

Although South Korea has provided humanitarian aid and military equipment to Ukraine, it has so far refused to supply weapons due to its official policy against arming countries in conflict. Some in Ukraine hope that the deepening military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang will prompt Seoul to reconsider its approach.

Analysts previously noted that Kyiv would use Putin's visit to Pyongyang to increase pressure. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia might supply weapons to North Korea, suggesting this would be a response to Western arms shipments to Ukraine.

People watch a television broadcast reporting a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir P© Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

Putin made the statement to reporters in Vietnam, a day after visiting North Korea, where he signed a mutual military assistance agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the event of armed aggression against either country.

Western nations view the growing ties between Moscow and Pyongyang with concern. Earlier this month, Putin threatened that Russia might supply weapons to Western adversaries because the West has been supplying Ukraine with high-precision weapons and allowing it to target sites within Russia.

In his latest statements, he did not rule out sending Russian weapons to North Korea. "Russia reserves the right to supply weapons to other regions of the world. Considering our agreements with North Korea, this is also not excluded," Putin said.

Putin and Kim Jong-un signed an agreement on mutual military assistance in the event of war on Wednesday. Putin stated that Moscow expects its cooperation with North Korea to serve as a deterrent to the West, but there is no need to send North Korean soldiers to the war in Ukraine.

Change in Nuclear Doctrine

The United States and Ukraine claim that North Korea has already supplied Russia with significant quantities of artillery shells and ballistic missiles, which Moscow and Pyongyang have denied.

Putin also warned that South Korea would make a "big mistake" if it decided to send weapons to Ukraine and that Moscow would respond. His remarks followed a report by South Korea's Yonhap agency on Thursday that South Korea would consider the possibility of sending weapons to Ukraine after Putin and Kim Jong-un signed a mutual military assistance agreement.

"Sending lethal weapons to combat zones in Ukraine would be a big mistake. I hope it doesn't happen," Putin said. "If it does, we will make an appropriate decision that is unlikely to please the current South Korean leadership." Putin also mentioned that Russia is contemplating changing its nuclear doctrine.

The existing doctrine stipulates that Russia could use nuclear weapons if attacked with nuclear weapons or in the case of a conventional attack posing an existential threat to the state. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, some hawks among Russian military analysts have proposed lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.

Putin stated there is no need for Russia to carry out a preemptive nuclear strike.

Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement

Several hours after Putin arrived in Vietnam, North Korean state media announced a "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement," which effectively revives a mutual defense agreement from the 1960s.

The agreement, signed by Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday, represents one of Moscow's most significant moves in Asia in recent years. Last month, Putin visited China shortly after being sworn in for the fifth time as Russia's president.

The agreement between the leaders of the two countries, facing increasing international isolation, comes as the US and its Asian allies express concern about the extent to which Russia would support North Korea, the only state to have tested nuclear weapons in this century.

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