Vice Minister Diminishes Fears of Russia Ties after Yoon’s Unexpected Trip to Ukraine


SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s vice foreign minister on Monday downplayed worries that President Yoon Suk Yeol’s sudden visit to Ukraine may worsen ties with Russia, suggesting that Seoul’s relations with Moscow would remain manageable despite the trip.

First Vice Foreign Minister Chang Ho-jin made the remarks in an SBS radio interview earlier in the day, noting that South Korea and Russia have a “sort of formula in managing South Korea-Russia relations after the Ukrainian war.”

“It is like a tacit understanding that the two countries will tolerate up to a certain point in managing their relations under such special circumstances,” he said. “Considering this formula, the president’s visit will not worsen (ties with Russia) that much.”

Chang, who previously served as ambassador to Russia, pointed out that Moscow would have “considered it seriously” if South Korea announced the assistance of lethal weapons to Ukraine.

During a sudden visit to Ukraine last week, Yoon agreed to provide the country with a package of security, humanitarian and reconstruction assistance under the name “Ukraine Peace and Solidarity Initiative.”

South Korea has sent various forms of nonlethal aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia’s invasion but has rejected Kyiv’s requests for lethal weapons.

This file photo shows South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Chang Ho-jin speaking during a plenary session of the diplomacy and unification committee at the National Assembly on July 13, 2023. (Yonhap)

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