South Korea issues furious response to Vladimir Putin's deal with North Korea

20 June 2024, 12:37

Vladimir Putin's deal with North Korea has been greeted with fury in South Korea, which has threatened to supply weapons to Ukraine for the first time.

The Russian president and Kim Jong Un signed an agreement on Wednesday that includes a vow to aid each other in the event of war.

International concern has grown over an arrangement in which North Korea provides Russia with badly needed munitions in exchange for economic aid and technology transfers that could enhance its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

South Korea's president condemned the mutual defence deal, with a spokesperson calling it a threat to the South's security and a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

They warned of possible retaliation in the form of considering providing weapons to Ukraine to help the country fight off Russia's invasion. South Korea has so far limited itself to sending non-lethal and humanitarian aid to Kyiv.

North Korea's leader, Mr Kim, said the "fiery friendship" between his country and Russia was now even closer than during Soviet times, and promised "full support and solidarity to the Russian government, army and people in carrying out the special military operation in Ukraine to protect sovereignty, security interests and territorial integrity".

According to the North's official Korean Central News Agency, the agreement states that if one of the countries is invaded and is pushed into a state of war, the other must deploy "all means at its disposal without delay" to provide "military and other assistance".

But it also says that such actions must be in accordance with the laws of both countries and Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which recognises a UN member state's right to self-defence.

"It's absurd that two parties with a history of launching wars of invasion - the Korean War and the war in Ukraine - are now vowing mutual military cooperation on the premise of a pre-emptive attack by the international community that will never happen," South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol's office said.

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Meanwhile, Mr Putin is continuing his foreign trip, visiting Vietnam on Thursday, where he signed a series of deals with his Vietnamese counterpart, To Lam.

He was greeted by schoolchildren waving Russian and Vietnamese flags as he arrived at the Presidential Palace to meet Mr Lam.

The two signed agreements to further cooperation on education, science and technology, oil and gas exploration and health.

They also agreed to work on a roadmap for a nuclear science and technology centre in Vietnam.

Following the talks, Mr Putin said the two countries shared an interest in "developing a reliable security architecture" in the Asia-Pacific region based on not using force and peacefully settling disputes with no room for "closed military-political blocs".