NATO secretary normal urges South Korea to permit direct arms exports to Ukraine

Seoul, South Korea

NATO Secretary Basic Jens Stoltenberg on Monday requested South Korea to rethink its rule on not exporting weapons to international locations in battle so it may assist arm Ukraine in repelling Russia’s invasion.

“I urge the Republic of Korea to continue and to step up the specific issue of military support,” he mentioned in a query and reply session after a speech to the Chey Institute for Superior Research in Seoul.

“Several NATO allies who had as a policy never to export weapons to countries in conflict have changed that policy now,” Stoltenberg mentioned, citing Germany, Norway and NATO applicant Sweden as these which have modified their arms export insurance policies to assist Ukraine.

“After the brutal invasion of Ukraine, these international locations modified their coverage as a result of they realized that if you find yourself going through a brutal invasion the place a giant energy – Russia – invades one other one in a blatant approach as we’ve seen in Ukraine, if we consider in freedom, if we consider in democracy, if we don’t need autocracy and tyranny to win, then they want weapons.

“When the full-fledged invasion happened last year, many countries changed their policy because they realized that the only way to stand up for democracy, to help Ukraine prevail, and to create the conditions for a lasting peace was to deliver military support.”

Army help for Ukraine obtained a giant increase final week when Germany mentioned it could ship 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, whereas additionally allowing different international locations that possess the Leopards, together with Norway, to produce them.

The Leopard 2 is a subsequent era tank that’s each agile and fast, regardless of being outfitted with superior protecting armor and long-range firepower. It’s thought-about among the many finest on the earth and superior to something Russia has deployed in Ukraine.

Along with the Leopards, Ukraine is ready to obtain heavy armor from each the USA, which is sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks, and the UK, which has pledged 14 Challenger tanks.

Some consultants say the South Korean K2 Panther can also be in that group of prime tanks and may very well be helpful for Ukraine.

However a South Korean presidential decree that enforces the nation’s Overseas Commerce Act says its exports can solely be used for “peaceful purposes” and “shall not affect international peace, safety maintenance, and national security.”

South Korea can also be a signatory to the United Nations’ Arms Commerce Treaty, ratified in 2014 with the intention of conserving shut management on who will get weapons and below what situations they can be utilized.

However that doesn’t imply South Korea’s arms business isn’t seeing a job in Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.

In December, a US protection official instructed CNN that Washington intends to purchase 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition from South Korean arms producers to supply to Ukraine.

The rounds might be transferred to Ukraine by way of the US, permitting Seoul to stay to its public pledge that it could not ship deadly help to the war-torn nation.

And one of many largest army supporters of Ukraine – Poland – signed a serious weapons take care of South Korea final yr for a whole lot of tanks and howizters and dozens of fighter jets.

The deal will allow Poland to switch lots of the weapons that Warsaw has despatched to Kyiv.

Stoltenberg mentioned Monday that it’s crucial that democracies should stand with Ukraine for so long as it takes for Kyiv to win the conflict.

“Because if if [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin wins, the message to him and other authoritarian leaders will be that they can get what they want with the use of force,” he mentioned. “This would make the world more dangerous and us more vulnerable.”