When NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that South Korea should consider providing arms to Ukraine, the suggestion highlighted that Seoul, despite being a major arms exporter, is sitting on the sidelines of the war.

Unlike the United States and other members of NATO, which have pledged more than $100 billion in aid to Ukraine in the form of weapons, South Korea has pledged $100 million in humanitarian support. And according to a spokesperson for South Korea’s Defense Ministry, the country has no plans to send direct military support.

That led Stoltenberg to push South Korea’s government this week to consider sending weapons as Ukraine prepares for a Russian offensive before the anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

In withholding direct arms support, South Korea is taking into account the threat that North Korea poses, defense and policy experts said.

“If South Korea is going to put itself on a limb to provide military aid for Ukraine, there could be a tipping point where China and South Korea relations really sour,” said Andrew Yeo, a senior fellow and the SK-Korea Foundation Chair at the Brookings Institution. That could make it difficult to persuade China to support its interests regarding North Korea, he added.

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Direct military aid could also turn South Korea into a country that Russia deems hostile, said Yang Uk, a research fellow at the Center for Foreign Policy and National Security in Seoul. A countermove by Russia to send weapons to North Korea would be “one of the worst scenarios,” he said.

Still, in August, South Korea signed a multibillion dollar deal with Poland to export tanks and howitzers, one of its largest arms deals ever. Poland has been one of Ukraine’s leading military contributors. South Korean officials deny that the deal is to aid Ukraine, but rather to boost Poland’s armed forces.

South Korea ranked eighth in arms exports from 2017-21, according to the Korea Research Institute for Defense Technology Planning and Advancement. Historically, though, it has rarely provided direct military aid for a war and began exporting arms only in the 1980s, Yang said.

From 1964 to 1973, the United States paid the country to deploy troops to fight in the Vietnam War. At the time, the South Korean economy was still recovering from the Korean War. In 2004, South Korea sent several thousand troops to Iraq, mostly as logistics and medical staff and not for combat, according to Yeo.

It is not out of the question for South Korea to follow NATO countries in sending weapons directly to Ukraine, both Yeo and Yang said. One of President Yoon Suk Yeol’s goals is for the country to play a larger role in global affairs.

Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said in a news conference Tuesday with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that South Korea is paying close attention to Ukraine but did not comment on any plans to provide military support.

Depending on how the war unfolds and what other countries do, it could be only a “matter of time” before South Korea sends weapons to Ukraine, Yeo said.