Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives a virtual speech to the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday. (Joint Press Corps)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy openly pleaded for South Korea to provide arms as his country continues to fight against a Russian invasion.
In a 15-minute livestreamed videoconference speech to South Korea’s parliament on Monday, the Ukrainian president asked the country to consider lending its support to fight off Russia’s clear violations of international law and human rights through military assistance.
“South Korea can help Ukraine,” he said in the livestreamed address. “South Korea has the military hardware that can stop Russia’s vessels and missiles.”
Zelenskyy said Ukraine is in need of military technologies like jet planes and tanks, which South Korea can help provide. Such military support would give Ukraine the opportunity to survive and save its people’s lives, he added.
“All countries are entitled to stay independent, all cities have the right to live peacefully, and everyone is entitled to not die from war,” Zelenskyy said. “We are fighting for these at this very moment. And for this, I ask you to stand with us and fight against Russia.”
Zelenskyy said South Korea is capable of providing military aid to Ukraine and helping the country keep its independence. He recalled that the East Asian country also received extensive help from overseas when fighting the Korean War from 1950 to 1953.
“Dear people of South Korea, the country experienced a war in the 1950s and a countless number of civilians lost their lives -- but South Korea overcame the crisis,” the Ukrainian president said. “International society provided much aid to (South Korea) then.”
South Korea earlier rejected Ukraine’s requests for lethal arms support. Defense Minister Suh Wook was reported to have told his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov in a phone call last week that South Korea had to reject the request for arms based on “our security situation and its potential impact on our military’s readiness posture.”
In March, South Korea provided 1 billion won ($811,000) worth of non-lethal military supplies like bulletproof helmets, blankets and medical items to Ukraine. However, it did not provide lethal arms support like rifles, anti-tank missiles or other weapons.
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol and President Moon Jae-in separately spoke with Zelenskyy over the phone last month to show support for Ukraine and discuss ways to provide aid.
Before delivering his address to the South Korean parliament on Monday, Zelenskyy made televised speeches to parliaments of 23 nations including the United States, Japan, Germany and Israel to request more humanitarian aid and military supplies.
The Monday event held at the National Assembly was attended by chiefs and floor leaders of the three major political parties -- the Democratic Party of Korea, the People Power Party and the Justice Party.
It was organized under the coordination of Rep. Lee Kwang-jae, head of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee at the National Assembly.
By Ko Jun-tae (email@example.com