A man wearing a Ukrainian flag in front of the Russian Embassy in London holds a sign with the phrase “Ukraine will never surrender” on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in on Thursday said that the country will cooperate with the international community, including measures such as sanctions against Russia, following Russian attack on Ukraine.
Tensions between Moscow and Kyiv are at their highest in years after Russian troops launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine on the day.
“The use of force that causes innocent casualties cannot be justified under any circumstances,” Moon said in the afternoon after receiving a report from the head of the National Security Office regarding the Ukraine incident. “Despite the continued warnings from the international community and efforts to resolve through diplomacy, the feared armed invasion occurred in Ukraine.”
He said, “As a responsible member of the international community, South Korea will support and join the international community’s efforts, including economic sanctions, to curb armed invasion and resolve the situation peacefully.
Earlier in the morning, the Foreign Ministry released a statement saying the South Korean government is closely discussing countermeasures with its allies, including the US, in a situation where Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can be seen as “imminent.”
“Despite repeated warnings from the international community, if Russia engages in any form of all-out war, it is clear that the Korean government will have no choice but to participate in sanctions such as export controls against Russia,” the ministry said.
The government said it would “review and find possible ways to minimize the damage to the Korean economy and businesses” that may be caused by these measures.
The South Korean Embassy in Ukraine urged Korean residents to move safe places, saying all employees of the Russian Embassy have left Ukraine and the possibility of Russia’s invasion is increasing.
“All employees of the Russian Embassy and consulate in Ukraine left the country in a hurry on (Feb.) 23 (local time),” the Korean Embassy in Ukraine said in an emergency notice posted on its website. “It was further confirmed that embassy staff of some other countries also stopped working in a hurry and left Kyiv.”
The embassy said the seriousness of the situation is very high, and the possibility of Russia’s attack is also increasing.
“Considering the urgent changes in the situation, we strongly recommend that Korean residents still staying in Ukraine be fully prepared to move quickly to a safe area in case of an emergency.”
The embassy also asked the remaining Korean residents to keep in touch with the embassy.
At the end of last month, the number of Koreans residing in Ukraine reached 600. However, after the government issued a travel warning level 4 throughout Ukraine on Feb. 13, most of them have been evacuated to safe areas.
Currently, 64 Korean residents are in Ukraine. The number excludes 10 Koreans from the Crimean Peninsula and government officials. Thirty-six people are expected to leave the country soon, but the rest are reportedly hoping to remain.
The military authorities plan to deploy military transport planes to evacuate Korean citizens staying in Ukraine in case of an emergency.
Defense Ministry spokesman Boo Seung-chan said on Tuesday, “The Ministry of National Defense will actively cooperate to transfer overseas Koreans when requested in connection with this situation,” adding, “We are maintaining a close cooperation system with related agencies and countries.”
By Shin Ji-hye (email@example.com