Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Senik enters the Foreign Ministry building in Jongno-gu, Seoul, Tuesday, to meet with Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon. (Yonhap)
Senior foreign affairs officials of South Korea and Ukraine met privately to discuss the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine, officials said Tuesday. It is the first time that a high-level Ukrainian official made a public visit to Korea since the Russian invasion in February.
Vice Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon met with Ukraine’s Vice Foreign Minister Dmytro Senik on Tuesday and exchanged views on the recent situation in Ukraine, support for the country, economic cooperation between the two countries, and protection of overseas citizens.
At the closed-door meeting, Lee expressed concern over the prolonged Russian invasion of Ukraine and said he hoped the situation would be resolved as early as possible and the humanitarian situation would not worsen any further, according to the ministry.
In response, Senik thanked Korea for its support and asked the Korean government and companies to support and participate in the reconstruction of Ukraine, and hoped to actively cooperate to expand trade, investment and strengthen the developing partnership between the two countries after the situation stabilizes, the ministry said.
Both vice ministers agreed to cooperate closely for the safety of the citizens of both countries who have moved to Ukraine or Korea
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the Korean government has provided $40 million worth of humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian government and people.
Senik, who plans to stay in Korea until Wednesday, came to Seoul to meet government officials and businesspeople to find ways to rebuild the country after the war.
Prior to the meeting, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “We plan to exchange opinions on the situation in Ukraine and discuss ways for the two countries to cooperate in areas such as trade, investment and development.”
Considering the difficulty of importing Russian fossil fuels, Ukraine has sought support for electric vehicles from South Korea and postwar recovery projects such as housing construction.
Meanwhile, Korean delegations from the ruling party and Foreign Ministry have gone to Ukraine, where they are discussing regional restoration, bilateral cooperation, joint projects and support for refugees. The delegation, led by People Power Party leader Lee Jun-seok, is expected to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before returning home Thursday.
Zelenskyy is predicted to meet with the delegation and ask President Yoon Suk-yeol to attend the Ukraine Reform Conference to be held in Lugano, Switzerland on July 4-5.
It is possible that South Korea’s potential support for arms provision will be discussed at a meeting with the delegation. However, there is some skepticism on whether the Korean government will provide weapons. The previous administration had refused such requests.
In April, before Yoon’s inauguration, the Ministry of National Defense said in response to Ukraine’s request for support for anti-aircraft weapons systems, “We explained our position (to the Ukraine side) that support for lethal weapons systems is limited in consideration of our security situation.”
By Shin Ji-hye (firstname.lastname@example.org