Asian ally to lend artillery shells to US – media – RT World News

South Korea reportedly agrees to supply 500,000 rounds to help replenish US stockpiles amid Ukraine conflict

South Korea has reportedly agreed to help ease Washington’s artillery supply shortfall, loaning 500,000 rounds of 155mm shells as the US ships much of its own supplies to Ukraine .

The deal was signed last month and was structured as a loan, rather than a sale, to prevent Seoul from providing military aid to Kiev amid its conflict with Russia, South Korea. Dong A Ilbo newspaper reported Wednesday. The report, which cites unidentified information “several government sources”, added that the loan was equivalent to about half the number of artillery shells the United States sent to Ukraine last year and five times the number South Korea sold to Washington in December .

Citing its policy against the provision of lethal military aid in areas of active conflict, the South Korean government insisted that the United States be designated as the “final user” of the 100,000 shells sold in Washington last year. By lending the latest batch of cartridges rather than selling them, Seoul sees less risk of the ammunition being given to Ukraine without South Korea’s consent, Dong-A Ilbo said.

The deal came as the South Korean government felt pressure from “produce results” for his biggest ally ahead of President Yoon Suk-yeol’s scheduled state visit to Washington later this month. In the worst-case scenario, the newspaper said, Russia could retaliate against South Korean citizens and businesses, but the unprecedented lease deal would allow Seoul to appease Moscow by asking the United States to return the shells.

“Indirect aid to Ukraine through loans is the best way to send a message to the international community that South Korea, as a responsible member of the international community, is not just sitting side of the war – without provoking Russia”, one of the government sources told Dong-A Ilbo.

President Joe Biden’s administration began asking South Korea for more artillery fire in February, the report said. Considering the US-South Korean relationship, Seoul could not ignore the US request. “It was not a situation where we could stick to our position” to deny lethal aid to Kyiv, another government official said.

NATO warned that Ukraine was burning munitions at a rate “much higher” than the rate at which the Western military bloc can produce new shells.

A trove of documents leaked to the Pentagon earlier this month suggested the United States was spying on South Korea and had concluded its ally was reluctant to sell munitions that could end up in Ukraine. An official in Yoon’s office told Reuters on Sunday that his administration would hold talks with Washington on the “issues raised” by the alleged leak.

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