S. Korea’s unilateral sanctions against Russia show significant downturn in bilateral ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un examine a Soyuz rocket launch pad during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome outside the city of Tsiolkovsky in the Russian Far East's Amur region, Sept. 13, 2023. AP-Yonhap

South Korea’s unilateral sanctions on Russia point to a downturn in the bilateral relations between Seoul and Moscow, experts said Monday.South Korea imposed sanctions against two Russian vessels on April 2, which it says were carrying military cargo to North Korea, as well as two Russian individuals and legal entities linked to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.This came after Russia vetoed the annual renewal of a panel of experts on March 29, which had spent the last 15 years monitoring the United Nations sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.Following South Korea’s first unilateral sanctions on Russian vessels and nationals, Russia’s foreign ministry summoned South Korea’s Ambassador to Moscow Lee Do-hoon on Friday to protest Seoul’s sanctions.Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said Moscow considers the sanctions as “another unfriendly move” by Seoul, according to Russia’s Sputnik news agency.Moscow also called on Seoul to “abandon counterproductive sanctions and force measures that provoke a further increase in tension on the Korean Peninsula.””This is an unfriendly move by Seoul and is deeply regrettable. The imposition of illegitimate sanctions will have a negative impact on relations with Russia,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday during a weekly briefing.The Russian Embassy in Seoul spokesperson said the embassy had no further comment.

“South Korea-Russia relations are deteriorating, and I think they will continue to decline even after the war in Ukraine ends,” Hyun Seung-soo, a Russia expert at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said.”Moscow and Pyongyang have been deepening their military ties following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia last year,” Hyun added. “Russia needs North Korea not only for weapons for its war in Ukraine but also for geopolitical competition in Asia. It has a strong desire to unite with North Korea to stand against a U.S.-led world order.”Doo Jin-ho, a research fellow at the Center for Security and Strategy in the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said, “It seems clear that there is an escalating friction between Seoul and Moscow. Their relations are unlikely to see progress this year because the North Korean nuclear and missile issues continue to serve as risk factors on the Korean Peninsula.”Experts said South Korea needs to make a bold approach toward Russia by continuing to act in accordance with the norms of international law.”We must continue to look for options of putting pressure on Russia in accordance with the norms of international law as the North Korean nuclear threat poses serious security threats to the Korean Peninsula. We should make formal complaint against Russia’s move to pose a nuclear threat and recognize North Korea as a nuclear state,” Hyun said.Doo added, “It looks difficult to [repair] Seoul-Moscow relations. We need to revise our policy goals and make efforts to prevent Moscow-Pyongyang from becoming too close. One way to proceed would be to send an envoy, vice foreign minister, for instance, to Russia to 스포츠토토존 ease tensions.”

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