SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Friday Seoul has not provided any lethal weapons to Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin said such a decision would destroy their bilateral relations.
Putin made the remark at a conference in Moscow on Thursday, accusing the West of inciting the war in Ukraine.
“We have been in solidarity with the international community for peaceful, humanitarian aid to Ukraine and have not provided any lethal weapons, but that’s in any regard a matter of our sovereignty,” Yoon told reporters when asked about Putin’s remark.
A U.S. ally, South Korea has maintained that it would not provide Ukraine with lethal aid, and has sought to avoid antagonizing Russia, both for economic reasons and the influence that Moscow can exert with North Korea.
“We are putting efforts to maintain peaceful, good relations with every country in the world, including Russia,” Yoon added.
The conflict, which began eight months ago with an invasion by Russian forces of neighbouring Ukraine, has killed thousands, displaced millions, shaken the global economy and reopened Cold War-era divisions. Russia calls the invasion a “special operation”.
(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Gerry Doyle)