Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) CEO Kang Goo-young poses with Polish Air Force officers and KAI staff during his visit to a Polish air base.
Photo: Korean Times
While NATO appears to be united on Ukraine, fissures are nevertheless appearing. Although Ukraine's bid for membership is strongly supported by East European and Baltic states, there is much less enthusiasm for it among core West European NATO countries, who worry about NATO's expanding border with Russia following the recent inclusion of Finland, reminds ‘The Korea Times’.
There are signs of impatience with Ukraine's constant demands for weapons. When presented by Zelenskyy on the margins of the NATO summit with a long wish list of new weapons systems, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace reportedly snapped, "What do you think we are, Amazon?" He intimated that a little bit of gratitude might go a long way.
President Yoon Suk Yeol should bear this situation in mind as he steps up support for Ukraine. His recent unannounced visit to Kyiv was made with the obvious goal of raising Korea's profile and seeking favor with Washington. Yoon seems to want to create a NATO-like structure in East Asia.
He offered a big package of "non-lethal" aid reconstruction assistance to Ukraine, which is in line with Seoul's stated policy of refusing to supply weapons to countries at war.
But there are reports that Ukrainian forces are using 155mm artillery shells and howitzers from Korea on the battlefield. These were likely provided by Poland, which has become a big arms market for Seoul, writes ‘The Korea Times’.
The two countries last year signed a $13.7 billion arms deal, which included Chunmoo rocket launchers. K2 tanks, K9 self-propelled howitzers and FA-50 fighter aircraft over the next decade. This will also allow Poland to re-export the older Russian-style equipment it has to Ukraine.
Poland signed a deal with KAI to purchase 48 FA-50 light attackers with the first two aircraft being delivered to the Central European country. KAI plans to deliver a total of 12 FA-50GFs to Poland by the end of this year.
Yoon's move risks a sharp Russian reaction. Moscow has already threatened Seoul that it would reciprocate with new military support for Pyongyang should Korean weaponry appear in Ukraine. It should be noted that North Korea's latest ICBM, the Hwasong-18, is almost a near carbon copy of Russia's Topol-M, able to carry several warheads. This challenges the U.S. deterrence policy to defend its Korean ally.
South Korea played out in support of Poland and Ukraine. The visit of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to the North Korea shows how Moscow began to respond to this defiant policy of Seoul.
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