(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with latest details)
By Kim Eun-jung and Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea vowed Thursday to join the international community to impose export controls against Russia in case of a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine but stopped short of drawing up its own punitive measures against Moscow.
The foreign ministry said it has been in consultations with the United States and other nations to prepare details of the export control packages, making first such comments on sanctions after Russian forces mounted military operations on Ukraine in defiance of global warnings and condemnation.
"The (South Korean) government has no other option but to join sanctions against Russia, including export controls," the ministry said in a statement.
The message marked a shift from Seoul's earlier show of cautiousness on the issue of joining multinational sanctions on Moscow -- one of its crucial partners for peace on the Korean Peninsula, trade and other exchanges.
South Korea is a major producer of semiconductors, electronics and other high-tech materials, which Russia is reliant on.
Though South Korea will join global efforts to join sanctions on Russia, the government is not mulling its own sanctions, according to Seoul officials.
"Some countries imposed their own (sanctions against Russia), but we're not considering such options," a senior ministry official told reporters.
The official remained vague when asked what would constitute a "full-fledged" war -- a threshold for Seoul's participation in anti-Moscow sanctions, saying: "Our government is paying keen attention to the situation in Ukraine at this point."
The Seoul government said it will consider all available options to minimize the potential impact such measures could have on the economy and Korean businesses.
The Korean embassy in Ukraine plans to evacuate non-essential diplomatic staff from the capital city of Kyiv by Friday, while some senior diplomats will remain there to ensure the safety of the remaining Korean nationals, according to Seoul officials.
The ministry also advised South Korean nationals in Russian regions bordering Ukraine to swiftly leave the areas. As of Thursday, there had been 11 South Koreans in the regions.
The government has banned its nationals from traveling to all regions of Ukraine since Feb. 13.
Meanwhile, Ponomarenko Dmytro, Ukraine's new ambassador to South Korea, visited the ministry Thursday and submitted a copy of his credentials.
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