Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has stated that he believes that President Joe Biden’s direct intervention is necessary to reach an agreement for South Korea to make its artillery shells available to Ukraine to use in the fight against Russia. The leaked intelligence documents posted on social media in March suggest that Poland could have a role in the transfer of artillery shells from South Korea to Ukraine. But the reports indicated that South Korean officials were reluctant to provide the ammunition, worried that doing so could violate their country’s rules against providing lethal aid to nations at war. Morawiecki believes that accessing South Korean artillery stocks is crucial to getting more badly needed ammunition to Ukraine. However, he believes that forging a deal would require more direct involvement from Biden to assure South Korea that the United States would offer support in the face of any aggressive response from China or Russia. “We spoke to South Korea about this, the weapon delivery and delivery of ammunition,” Mr. Morawiecki said. “But I don’t think that this is going to be possible without the intervention of the United States. South Korea is fearful of Russian reaction and Chinese reaction.” Poland has purchased many weapons systems from South Korea, but he said that buying shells from Seoul specifically to send to Ukraine would require U.S. involvement.
The United States has been tapping into American stockpiles of artillery shells stored in Israel, in an effort to increase the supply of ammunition available to Ukraine. The United States has also transferred munitions from a similar stockpile it controls in South Korea to Ukraine. But South Korea’s own vast supplies of 155-millimeter shells could be critical to keeping the Ukrainians in the fight. American officials declined to comment on Mr. Morawiecki’s remarks.
Morawiecki participated in the discussions and had spoken to South Korean officials over the past several months. “I would be very happy if President Biden intervened,” Mr. Morawiecki said. “Because without the intervention of the United States and some kind of shelter, some kind of security guarantee that President Biden could give South Korea, I don’t think this is going to happen.”
The United States has announced two more immediate shipments of thousands of artillery rounds from Pentagon stockpiles to help shore up Ukraine’s supplies. But a senior American defense official said those shipments, announced by the Biden administration on March 20 and April 4, would be the last two major infusions of ammunition to Ukraine before the offensive is expected to begin, and for the foreseeable future. Apart from the fighting in Bakhmut, Ukraine has been training thousands of troops and trying to build up stores of ammunition for the spring offensive.
Poland’s Prime Minister states that supporting Ukraine is crucial. “I want Ukraine to win this war because, God forbid, Ukraine gets conquered, then it’s a completely different world,” he said. “If Russia succeeds, and a big country can invade a smaller country, why would not China repeat the same trick with the support of Russians? So it is very important to us.”