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Moon says Ukraine’s sovereignty must be respected

‘Korea to actively participate in peace efforts as responsible member of international community’

President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)
Amid mounting fears of a Russian incursion into Ukraine, President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday that Ukraine’s sovereignty must be respected and Korea will actively participate in peace efforts for the nation.

“Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial preservation must be respected and peaceful solutions should be actively sought through dialogue,” Moon said, presiding over an unscheduled joint meeting of the National Security Council and the Foreign Economic Security Strategy Council after the Kremlin ordered Russian troops into separatist-held parts of eastern Ukraine on Monday.

“It is never desirable for the situation in Ukraine to deteriorate into an armed conflict,” the president said. “It will have a great political and economic impact not only in Europe but also around the world.”

He added that countries worldwide should work together to ensure that the Ukraine issue can be resolved peacefully as soon as possible, saying, “Korea will actively participate in these efforts as a responsible member of the international community.”

Moon urged officials to make every effort to protect and withdraw Korean residents living in Ukraine and cooperate closely with the countries involved.

“As the situation develops rapidly, we must now be prepared for a faster, more active and more specific response,” Moon said at the meeting.

As of Sunday, about 60 Korean residents were known to be staying in Ukraine. Among them, around 30 Korean residents wanted to stay in the country. Local diplomatic offices are trying to persuade them to change their minds and either leave early or move to safe areas such as Lviv.

He also ordered the government to examine the impact of the Ukraine crisis on the Korean economy more closely.

“Economic relations such as trade between Korea and Ukraine are not significant, but prolonged situations and strong sanctions against Russia by Western countries could have a significant impact on our economy,” Moon said.

Moon told officials to “actively seek countermeasures to prevent the economy from suffering unexpected damage” as supply chain disruptions, such as with energy and raw materials, and uncertainties in the global financial market can “affect the overall economy.”

After Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into two separatist pro-Moscow regions in eastern Ukraine on Monday, rising tensions sent jitters through markets in South Korea.

The won-dollar exchange rate started higher and the Kospi and Kosdaq began lower on the day, as a preference for safe assets grew on escalating geopolitical tensions. Gasoline prices in Seoul surpassed 1,800 won ($1.50) per liter.

The Financial Supervisory Service has decided to strengthen foreign currency liquidity management in all financial sectors by establishing a 24-hour emergency response system.

Securities said the crisis may also negatively affect the nation’s chips and chemicals industries.

If tensions escalate, a blow to the semiconductor sector, one of the nation’s major industries, is inevitable due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. About 50 percent of neon, argon and xenon gases, which are raw materials for semiconductors, come from Russia and Ukraine. The oil refining and chemical sectors are also likely to be affected. Around 5.5 percent of total crude oil imports by domestic oil refiners is Russian.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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