Russia’s foreign minister has issued a warning to South Korea in response to Seoul’s imposition of additional trade restrictions on Moscow, aimed at curbing its expansionist activities in Ukraine.
In an interview with Russia’s state-run TASS news agency on Thursday, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov referred to the Korean peninsula, along with Africa and Afghanistan, as “knots of conflict” for the coming year.
“It can be said that at a time when the West is holding onto elusive dominance, no one is safe from its geopolitical intrigues,” Lavrov said, adding that crises may arise unless the West accepts the “realities of a multipolar world.”
Lavrov’s comments come as ties between Seoul and Moscow deteriorate rapidly, with South Korea deciding to join the U.S.-led trade restrictions on Russia in response to its aggression against Ukraine.
Most recently, South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy announced an administrative revision on Tuesday, adding 682 items to its list of products requiring special export permits, as part of an international effort to control exports to Russia.
With these additions, the total number of items subject to special export permits to Russia will rise to 1,159. The newly added items, deemed to have significant potential for military use, include construction heavy equipment, secondary batteries, machine tools, and aircraft components.
In response to Seoul’s new measures, Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called South Korea’s action an “unfriendly move in compliance with the United States’ demands.”
The spokesperson then warned about potential retaliatory measures, emphasizing that Russia has every right to respond.
Russia’s responses “may not be symmetrical, and we hope South Korea will not find themselves surprised by them later,” she said.
Following Russia’s warning of possible asymmetrical measures, a South Korean foreign ministry official told reporters during a back briefing in Seoul that Russia needed to play its part for the management of South Korea-Russia relations.
“Prior to announcing the export control measures against Russia, we had already explained the situation to the Russian side,” the official added.
The escalating diplomatic tensions between the two nations are already spilling over into the military realm.
On Dec. 14, four Russian military aircraft, along with two Chinese, entered South Korea’s Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, off its eastern coast without prior notification.
ADIZ is an arbitrary line established to enable the early identification and response to military aircraft approaching national airspace.
Typically, it is an international practice for military aircraft to submit their flight plans in advance and notify the respective country of their entry points when entering another nation’s ADIZ. However, Russia and China did not notify South Korea prior to their entry into the zone, according to the South’s defense ministry.
Edited by Taejun Kang and Elaine Chan.