South Korea paraded soldiers and powerful weapons in its biggest Armed Forces Day celebration in years.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea on Tuesday paraded thousands of soldiers and an array of weapons through its capital as part of its biggest Armed Forces Day celebration in 10 years. Able to invade Korea, as its president vowed to build a strong. Army to thwart any provocation from the North.

Concerns are growing that North Korea is seeking Russia’s help in expanding its nuclear arsenal in exchange for supplying conventional weapons to Moscow, which ended in a war with Ukraine.

“After seeing your mighty march today, I am confident that our people will trust you and trust our national security,” Yoon Seok-yul told cheering troops at the end of the ceremony at the central Seoul Plaza. “I will always support you together with my people.”

Earlier, South Korea deployed tanks, artillery systems, drones and powerful ballistic missiles capable of targeting all of North Korea through the streets of Seoul, amid incessant autumn rains. In the first such military parade since 2013, about 4,000 South Korean soldiers carrying rifles or flags followed them, accompanied by about 300 US troops.

As the soldiers and their weapons passed, Yoon waved, clapped and gave a thumbs up.

Since taking office last year, he has been pushing hard to build up South Korea’s defense capabilities, ramping up military exercises with the United States in response to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

But one complication in Seoul and Washington’s efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions is North Korea’s latest push to deepen military cooperation with Russia. Earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled to Russia’s Far East to meet with President Vladimir Putin and visit key military sites.

North Korea reportedly wants to acquire Russian technology to help develop spy satellites, nuclear-powered submarines and powerful long-range missiles. Such weapons could pose a major security threat to South Korea and the United States.

At a formal Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military airport near Seoul early Tuesday, Yun said he would “strive to build a strong army that will strike fear into the enemy.”

Based on a solid posture of war-ready combat capabilities and readiness, our military will respond promptly to any provocation by North Korea, he said. “If North Korea uses nuclear weapons, its regime will be overthrown by a massive response from the South Korea-US alliance.”

According to South Korean officials, the event involved about 6,700 troops and 200 weapons assets, the largest of its kind since 2013.

Yun did not mention North Korea-Russia relations in his speech on Tuesday. But in a speech to the UN General Assembly last week, he said South Korea “would not sit idly by” if North Korea and Russia agreed to such arms deals in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Ga” which bans arms trade with North Korea.

US officials have also said that North Korea and Russia will face consequences if they pursue such agreements.

Also on Tuesday, senior diplomats from South Korea, Japan and China discussed their leaders’ first summit in four years in Seoul, according to South Korean officials. Yun said last week that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have expressed their support for a trilateral summit in South Korea.

Yoon’s moves to strengthen South Korea’s military alliance with the United States and promote Seoul-Washington-Tokyo security cooperation have fueled concerns that Seoul’s relationship with China, its biggest trading partner, could be strained. There will be damage. But Yoon says Seoul-Washington-Tokyo cooperation will not marginalize any particular nation.

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