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Pentagon refuses to comment on whether Korea should offer lethal arms support to Ukraine

May 10, 2024 - 09:17 By Yonhap
Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder answers questions during a briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on April 15, 2024. (Getty Images)

A Pentagon spokesperson refused Thursday to comment on whether the United States wants Seoul to provide lethal arms support to Ukraine, after South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol reaffirmed his administration's policy against any provision of offensive weapons to the war-torn country.

Seoul has maintained a stance to offer humanitarian and non-lethal defense assistance to Ukraine, such as protective suits, demining equipment and other military supplies, though pressure has continued for arms support to the country.

"I will let the Republic of Korea speak for itself when it comes to what they feel comfortable with providing to support Ukraine," Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told a press briefing, referring to South Korea by its official name.

"The ROK is an incredible ally, and they certainly have provided non-lethal assistance to Ukraine and support the broader effort to deter and prevent Russian aggression in Ukraine," he added.

He was responding to a question over whether Washington wants Seoul to provide 155-mm artillery rounds and other offensive weapons to Ukraine.

Ryder said that Washington is thankful to any country that backs Ukraine.

"We are just grateful for any nation that can contribute in some way to help send a clear signal to authoritarian regimes that invading your democratic, peaceful neighbor is not acceptable behavior," he said.

During a press conference on Thursday, Yoon said South Korea is doing its best to provide humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Ukraine but stands by its policy of not providing offensive, lethal weapons to any nation in conflict.

Ryder also responded to a question about Russia's reported plan to conduct drills on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, and the possibility of related military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang.

"I've seen that reported in the press and I would just say again that it's irresponsible, reckless saber-rattling," he said. "That is dangerous given the current climate ... international security environment." (Yonhap)