Putin threatens to send weapons to North Korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened Thursday to send weapons to North Korea if South Korea delivers arms to Ukraine, as international tensions spike following a new treaty between Moscow and Pyongyang.

Speaking to reporters in Hanoi, Vietnam, after visiting North Korea and cementing the treaty with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that includes a mutual defense pact, Putin said South Korea has nothing to worry about so long as it didn’t invade Pyongyang.

“As for the supply of lethal weapons to the combat zone in Ukraine, this would be a very big mistake,” he said. “I hope this doesn’t happen. If this happens, then we, too, will make appropriate decisions that are unlikely to please the current leadership of South Korea.”

South Korea on Thursday blasted the treaty between Russia and North Korea, which stipulates that the nations will defend each other in the event of an attack. Seoul’s presidential office spokesperson warned that it was reviewing its arms transfer policy for Ukraine, according to media reports.

South Korea has an export policy of only providing nonlethal aid to other nations, but as a major U.S. ally, it has supported Kyiv with pickup trucks and other equipment.

Putin’s meeting with Kim was a major blow to the U.S., as both countries deepened an alliance that was formed last year when North Korea began supplying artillery shells to Russia in return for food and critical technology for its space and missile programs.

The Putin-Kim meeting came not just amid the war in Ukraine but also as tensions are boiling over between North Korea and South Korea, which have been in a frozen conflict since war ended in the 1950s.

A 2018 military agreement that had seen both North Korean and South Korean forces pull back certain equipment from the border has now been abandoned, with Seoul resuming its campaign of blaring messages on loudspeakers across the demilitarized border.

North Korea has sent balloons filled with trash across the border in response to South Korean leaflets being dropped in its country, while Kim continues to launch spy satellites and test missiles, and the U.S. and Seoul ramp up military exercises on the Korean Peninsula.

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