Ukrainian President Optimistic about Enhanced Collaboration with South Korea
By Lee Hyo-jin
During their first summit held on the sidelines of the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima, Japan, President Yoon Suk Yeol assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of swift additional non-lethal aid to Ukraine, including mine-clearing equipment.
The bilateral meeting, requested by President Zelenskyy, lasted approximately 30 minutes, as confirmed by the Korean presidential office.
According to a statement issued by the presidential spokesperson, Lee Do-woon, President Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for South Korea’s timely humanitarian assistance, such as medical aid, generators, and computers for educational purposes, and hoped for further support in the form of non-lethal equipment.
In response, President Yoon pledged to expedite the provision of urgently needed equipment, including mine-clearing vehicles and ambulances. He reiterated his commitment to Ukraine, promising continued diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian aid.
President Zelenskyy took to Twitter after the summit, expressing gratitude to President Yoon for South Korea’s humanitarian and non-lethal assistance, specifically mentioning demining vehicles. He also welcomed Seoul’s attention to projects presented by his wife, Olena Zelenska, during her recent visit to South Korea as a presidential envoy.
The summit between Yoon and Zelenskyy occurred amidst global interest in whether South Korea would provide military aid to Kyiv, a departure from its current policy of offering only humanitarian and economic support.
During an interview in April, Yoon mentioned the possibility of providing arms to Ukraine depending on the course of the conflict. While his remarks were well-received by Western nations, they sparked strong objections from Moscow.
However, the statement released by the South Korean presidential office did not include discussions on the provision of lethal weapons during the Yoon-Zelenskyy summit.
The Ukrainian leader’s participation in the G7 summit coincided with the ongoing 15-month-old war in Kyiv. In a joint statement, the G7 leaders strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in thousands of deaths and immense suffering for the Ukrainian people.
The G7 countries vowed to escalate penalties against Moscow by expanding existing trade and economic sanctions to ban the export of all industrial machinery and technology useful for Russia’s aggression.
Earlier in the day, President Yoon held a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, marking a significant improvement in bilateral relations. This meeting took place just two weeks after their previous summit on May 7 in Seoul.
During their discussions, the leaders emphasized the need to strengthen trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the United States, and Japan in response to the heightened regional tensions arising from North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
President Yoon also engaged in a trilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Kishida on the same day. During the brief meeting, lasting approximately 10 minutes, the three leaders explored new avenues of cooperation to address the illicit nuclear and missile threats posed by Pyongyang, as well as China’s assertiveness. President Biden invited Yoon and Kishida for a three-way summit in Washington, according to a senior U.S. official.