South Korea to Lend 500,000 Rounds of Artillery Shells to US -Report

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SEOUL (Reuters ) - South Korea agreed last month to loan the United States 500,000 rounds 155 mm artillery ammunition that would give Washington more flexibility in supplying Ukraine with ammunition. A South Korean newspaper reported this on Wednesday.

The DongA Ilbo reported that unnamed sources in the government said South Korea had decided to "lend", rather than sell, the ammunition in order to minimize the chance of South Korean shells used in the Ukraine conflict.

The loaned shells will be used by the United States primarily to replenish its stockpile.

The U.S. had purchased 100,000 shells of these shells in January, and asked for the same or even more rounds to be bought by February. However, the South Korean government was looking for another way to provide ammunition to their ally.

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After exploring the best way to answer the request from the blood ally while adhering to the principle of the government not to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, an unnamed official was quoted.

Seoul and Washington confirmed in the past that they were negotiating a deal for artillery supplies, but no word has yet been released on whether an agreement was reached.

The South Korean defence ministry confirmed that the allies are exploring ways to defend Ukraine's freedom, but refused to confirm any specific discussions.

The U.S. State Department has not yet responded to the report.

Yonhap reported that Foreign Minister Park Jin said that although he couldn't confirm the newspaper article, the government's position against providing lethal assistance to Ukraine is unchanged.

Reports on the leak of highly classified U.S. documents revealed South Korea's struggles to balance the pressures from its western allies and its own policy to stay out of the conflict with their demands to provide military aid to Ukraine.

South Korea, a major artillery ammunition producer and key ally of the United States, has avoided antagonizing Russia because of their economic ties and Moscow’s influence on North Korea.

Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea, who is in Washington for a meeting with U.S. president Joe Biden this month, said that Seoul has not given any lethal weapons or ammunition to Ukraine, but will instead expand its humanitarian assistance.