South Korea will supply weapons worth $2.9 billion to Ukraine, the Czech daily Mladá fronta DNES reported on September 30.
The newspaper said that the United States will pay for the weapons which will be first shipped to a Czech arms company. Later, the weapons, which will include KP-SAM Chiron man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs), will be transferred as a gift to Ukraine.
South Korean weapons cannot be sent directly to Ukraine due to Seoul‘s official position. The country has voiced its support for Kiev since the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. However, it objected sending weapons to the country. Previous South Korean aid packages to Kiev forces consisted of “non-lethal items” such as helmets or flak jackets.
In response to a question by the newspaper about plans to supply South Korean weapons through the Czech Republic, Czech Defense Minister Jana Chernokhova refused to confirm or deny.
“I do not want to comment on media speculation [about arms supply to Ukraine],” the minister said. “Czech assistance to Ukraine continues. For security reasons, as I said earlier. We won’t define it.”
The Chiron MANPAD, which is manufactured by South Korea’s defense giant LIG Nex1, features integrated IFF [identification friend or foe] systems, night and adverse weather capabilities, a two-colour [IR/UV] infrared seeker to aid in negating IRCM [infrared countermeasures] and a proximity-fuse warhead.
The air-defense system has a top engagement altitude of 3.5 kilometers with a maximum distance range of up to 7 kilometers.
The Chrion will be effective against helicopters and low-flying drones. However, it will not likely be a threat to fast, highly-maneuverable fighter jets. The system adds very little to the arsenal of MANPADs which have been already supplied to Kiev forces by the US and its allies, like the FIM-92 Stinger, Mistral and Piorun.
South Korea’s decision to supply weapons to Kiev could have an impact on its relations with Russia. The attempt to supply these weapons via a privet contractor in the Czech Republic will not fool Moscow, which will not likely remove South Korea from its Unfriendly Countries List any time soon.
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