S. Korea urges Russia to halt military cooperation with N.K. amid tensions over new treaty

June 21, 2024

South Korea urged Russia on Friday to “immediately halt” military cooperation with North Korea and “act responsibly” after Moscow signed a new treaty with Pyongyang on providing each other military assistance in case of an armed attack on either of them.

First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hong-kyun delivered the position to Russian Ambassador Georgy Zinoviev as the foreign ministry called in the top Russian envoy to lodge a protest over the treaty inked between Moscow and and Pyongyang at their leaders’ summit Wednesday.

The treaty provides for military and other assistance from one side to the other “with all means” at its disposal and “without delay,” if either of the two gets invaded or put in a state of war.

Article 4 of the treaty is seen as warranting automatic military intervention in the event of an attack on either country, a provision that restores the Cold War-era alliance 28 years after their mutual defense treaty was scrapped in 1996.

Kim emphasized that “Russia must act responsibly” as he made it clear that South Korea, together with the international community, will “deal resolutely with any actions that threaten our security,” as the situation is at a point where the North “will not hesitate” to use nuclear weapons, the ministry said.

“(Kim) urged Russia to immediately halt military cooperation with North Korea and strongly called for complying with U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions,” it said.

Kim also said Russia, as a permanent UNSC member, violating the UNSC resolutions and supporting the North “directly or indirectly” in a way that will help its arms buildup would “inevitably have a negative impact” on its bilateral relations with South Korea.

Zinoviev, in response, said any attempts to “threaten and blackmail” Russia are unacceptable, arguing that its cooperation with the North is not directed against third countries, the Russian Embassy in Seoul said in a post on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Zinoviev said the cooperation contributes to the strengthening of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and that his country is complying with the principles and norms of international law.

He said Russia remains committed to making efforts to build a framework for “long-term peace and stability in the region based on the principle of indivisible security.”

Chang Ho-jin, South Korea’s top security adviser, said after holding a National Security Council meeting Thursday that Seoul will reconsider its stance on the arms supply to Ukraine. South Korea has so far maintained a policy of only providing nonlethal aid to Kyiv.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was on a state visit to Vietnam, warned that it would be a “very big mistake” if South Korea provided lethal weapons to Ukraine.

South Korea and the United States have strongly condemned Moscow and Pyongyang for committing to deeper military cooperation through the treaty.

Attending a U.N. session in New York on Thursday (local time), Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul said it was “deplorable” that Russia violated the resolutions that it itself has agreed to adopt as a permanent UNSC member.

Cho called on the international community to stand united against “any direct or indirect” cooperation that would help the North’s military buildup that constitutes a violation of UNSC resolutions.