By Soo-hyang Choi
SEOUL (Reuters) – Canada has asked South Korea to provide it with artillery shells, Seoul said on Monday, ostensibly to “fill” supplies Ottawa sent to Ukraine, increasing pressure on the South Korea to provide – at least indirectly – lethal war aid.
Canada has provided Ukraine with M777 towed howitzers, which fire 155 millimeter shells. Last week, Defense Minister Anita Anand announced that Canada would send an additional 20,000 155mm rounds from the United States.
A spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of Defense confirmed that Ottawa had made the request, but did not elaborate further, saying “no official proceedings are underway regarding the request”.
South Korean broadcaster SBS, quoting an unnamed senior South Korean defense ministry official, said the deal could involve up to 100,000 shells from South Korean reserves, likely to be sold below market value. .
“We are actively pursuing a plan to supply 100,000 cartridges to Canada,” the official told SBS.
Global Affairs Canada, which handles diplomatic and consular relations, and Canada’s Department of National Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
South Korea is a major manufacturer of 155mm ammunition, with its K9 self-propelled howitzer dominating the international market. The K9 is used by several European countries, including Finland, Norway and Estonia, but South Korea has said it has no plans to provide lethal aid to Ukraine.
South Korea has provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine and shipped non-lethal items including bulletproof helmets and medical kits.
Former President Moon Jae-in’s administration has rejected requests from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for armored vehicles and anti-aircraft, anti-tank and anti-ship weapons.
South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office on May 10, has signaled an interest in aligning himself more closely with Washington, suggesting he would give the go-ahead for at least indirect lethal aid to Ukraine.
(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi. Additional reporting by Amran Abocar in Ottawa. Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)