Pentagon asks U.S. Forces Korea to provide equipment for Ukraine

General view of the site where an apartment block was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Dnipro, Ukraine January 18, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

SEOUL, Jan 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Defense has asked its forces stationed in South Korea to provide equipment to help Ukraine in the war against Russia, the U.S. military said on Thursday, adding the move has "zero impact" on its operations in the Asian country.

U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), which has some 28,500 troops in South Korea, said the move is part of U.S. efforts to help Ukraine with its inventories.

"This has zero impact on our operations and our ability to execute on our ironclad commitment to the defence of our ally, the Republic of Korea," USFK spokesperson Col. Isaac Taylor said in a statement.

USFK declined to provide further details, including what types of equipment and how much has been requested or already transferred.

The statement comes after the New York times reported earlier this week the United States was diverting munitions in Israel and South Korea to Ukraine for use in the war against Russia. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine "a special operation".

Asked about the report, Seoul's defence ministry said it was closely coordinating with the United states to maintain readiness posture.

South Korea's policy is not to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine. Seoul has sought to avoid antagonising Russia, both for economic reasons and because of the influence that Moscow can exert with North Korea.

A U.S. official said in November Washington was in talks with South Korea to buy artillery shells to send to Ukraine, though Seoul insisted that the United States must be the ammunition's end-user.

Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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