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US diplomat voices hope for S. Korea to offer more defense material support to Ukraine

Feb. 27, 2024 - 11:13 By Yonhap
This photo shows Yuri Kim, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs, on Feb. 5, 2020. (US Embassy in Arbania)

A US diplomat expressed hopes Monday for South Korea to provide more defense material support to Ukraine, stressing the importance of air defense assistance for Ukrainian forces striving to fend off Russian attacks.

Speaking at a forum, Yuri Kim, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs, underscored the need for continued aid to Ukraine, as US military support to the war-ravaged country has stalled with a funding bill held up in the House due to Republican opposition.

"We've seen the ROK provide Ukraine with not just political support but actual defense support, and we'd like to see more of those materials going over to Ukraine," she said during the virtual forum hosted by the Institute for Corean-American Studies. ROK stands for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.

In particular, Kim highlighted the importance of air defense tools needed for Ukrainian forces to defend themselves and their territory.

"What we, in particular, have encouraged every member of the coalition to provide is air defense because we see air defense making a huge difference," she said, referring to the group of some 50 countries committed to supporting the war-torn country.

"Not just in protecting critical infrastructure, but when you create these bubbles of protection, we see the economy being able to come back to life, and we see people, whether they are business people or consumers, coming back into active engagement."

Kim went on to say, "We are pressing all members of the coalition to the extent that they can to provide air defense, whether it's the system or the interceptors, and of course, ammunition. The biggest need right now is 155-mm artillery."

South Korea has maintained a stance to provide humanitarian and non-lethal defense assistance to Ukraine, such as protective suits, demining equipment and other military supplies, though pressure has been building for arms support to the country.

Asked if the US has made an official request to South Korea for the provision of air defense, Kim said that Washington has made "this request" and "this emphasis" on air defense "very broadly" to all coalition members, including South Korea.

"All 50 coalition members understand that there is a great need for air defense," she said. (Yonhap)