By Oyintari Ben
According to a US official, Washington intends to purchase 100,000 artillery shells made in South Korea for use in the conflict in Ukraine, despite the fact that South Korea has maintained its policy against providing Ukraine with lethal aid and that it anticipates US forces will be the final users of the ammunition.
The Wall Street Journal claimed that the US and South Korea were close to reaching an agreement to purchase 100,000 rounds of 155mm artillery shells that would be shipped to Ukraine, citing US sources involved with the deal.
Under the condition of anonymity, a US official on Friday was quoted as saying that Washington intended to transfer the South Korean artillery shells to Ukraine.
The official stated that the ammunition might be purchased using Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds, but it remained unclear if the shells would be transported through US soil.
The representative issued a warning that the transaction might be in jeopardy if word of the negotiations became public.
In response to news reports regarding the ammunition deal, South Korea’s defence ministry stated on Friday that its stance on continuing to refrain from giving Ukraine lethal assistance remained unchanged and that its “confidential” negotiations on the sale of the artillery shells were being held “under the premise that the US is the end user.”
Negotiations between US and Korean enterprises to export ammunition are ongoing, the ministry said in a statement, “to make up for the scarcity of 155mm ammunition inventories in the US.”
The US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and South Korea’s Lee Jong-sup had earlier this month, according to a report from the Yonhap News Agency, “agreed ‘in principle’ to proceed with the artillery contract.”
However, in a statement from the country’s defence ministry, “the allies are having related negotiations under the assumption that the materials will be employed by the US.”
According to Yonhap, the ministry also stressed that the South Korean government’s stance on not giving Ukraine any lethal weapons has not changed.