Korea to join sanctions against Russia over Ukraine
“Unfortunately, despite continued warnings from the international community and efforts to resolve the issue through diplomacy, the feared armed invasion occurred in Ukraine,” Moon said Thursday, according to Park Soo-hyun, senior presidential secretary for public communication.
“The Republic of Korea, as a responsible member of the international community, will support and participate in the efforts of the international community, including economic sanctions, to deter armed aggression and peacefully resolve the situation.”
The announcement followed sanctions from the United States on Wednesday on Russian banks and powerful figures, and from Germany, which froze a gas pipeline project with Russia on Tuesday.
The National Security Council hosted meetings Thursday morning and afternoon to discuss Korea’s next course of action.
Within a few hours of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of military action in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine early Thursday morning, posts on social media platforms reported explosions in the eastern region, including Boryspil, home to the airport serving the capital of Kyiv, Odessa and Berdyansk.
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv confirmed attacks in cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Mariupol.
A total of 64 Koreans were known to remain in Ukraine as of Thursday, which was one more than the Foreign Ministry’s count on Tuesday.
“The citizen was not registered in our system, and the embassy only found out later on Tuesday,” said a ministry official.
A total of 35 of the remaining Koreans were reported to be in or near Kyiv, 18 in the southeastern region and 11 in the western region of Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden released a statement condemning Putin and warning of “a strong, united response” with NATO allies. Ukraine is not part of NATO.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said in a statement released in Washington on Wednesday evening. “Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.”
Biden said he will be speaking with G7 leaders on Thursday morning local time and announce “further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia.”
The Korean Embassy in Kyiv released on Thursday yet another statement urging all Koreans in the country to flee.
“Considering the urgent change in the current situation, it is strongly recommended that Koreans who are still in Ukraine be fully prepared so that they can move to a safe area or a safe place promptly in case of an emergency,” the embassy said on Thursday, adding that it received news that all staff of the Russian embassy and consulate in Ukraine hurriedly left the country on Wednesday.
“Our embassy will provide safety information to Korean residents while closely monitoring the situation, so please check the embassy website and our Kakao chat room frequently, and keep in touch with our embassy,” it said.
The government had ordered all Koreans to evacuate by midnight Feb. 12, and banned further travel into the country. Violators can be fined up to 10 million won ($8,360) or sentenced to a year in prison.
Of the remaining Koreans, which include missionaries, students and the self-employed, 36 had reported to the Foreign Ministry plans to flee the nation as of Thursday. The rest had expressed their wishes to stay on.
The Korean government has not ruled out evacuating its citizens via government-chartered flights.
“We will continue to examine the measures to ensure the safety of our citizens and businesses in Ukraine, and provide support for evacuation and departure in case of emergency,” said the Blue House in a statement on Thursday.
The Korean Embassy in Kyiv will continue to operate as long as there are citizens remaining in the country, said the Foreign Ministry.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy launched a special team on Thursday to work out how American export controls on Russia and other international sanctions will have an impact on Korean economic interests in the region.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [email@example.com]