S. Korea to keep eye on possible dispatch of N. Korean engineering forces to Ukraine

By Park Sae-jin Posted : June 28, 2024, 16:45 Updated : June 28, 2024, 16:45
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after their summit in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024. AP-Yonhap
SEOUL, June 28 (AJU PRESS) - Following a series of news reports that North Korea could send engineering forces to Ukraine, South Korea's Ministry of Unification said Friday that it is keeping an eye on further developments.

Last week, cable channel TV Chosun, citing an anonymous government official, reported that Pyongyang is likely to dispatch engineering forces to Ukraine's Donetsk Oblast, currently occupied by Russian forces, to engage in reconstruction projects there as early as next month.

The news was soon circulated, with some foreign military specialists speculating that such a move could potentially enable Russia to deploy more troops to frontlines areas, thereby prolonging the ongoing war. 

A ministry spokesperson here said during a press briefing, "We are carefully monitoring the situation without making any assumptions over the possibility."

According to an assessment released by the U.S.' Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on Thursday (local time), no evidence was found that Pyongyang is preparing to send engineering units to Ukraine. ISW said the claims made by U.S. officials "are inaccurate."

Russia also denied the possibility. The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a press briefing on Thursday that Russia is "unfamiliar with" the claims, according to Russia's state news agency TASS.

Earlier this month, North Korea and Russia signed a defense pact during President Vladimir Putin's visit to Pyongyang. The pact includes provisions for bilateral military cooperation, stipulating mutual military assistance in case either country faces aggression. 

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