Russian warplane enters South Korean airspace, fighter jets fired warning shots and flares
dpa, Hamburg, Germany
The South Korean air force fired warning shots at a Russian warplane that Seoul said violated the country’s airspace on Tuesday, prompting an angry response from Moscow.
South Korean F-16 jets “conducted unprofessional manoeuvres, crossing the course of the Russian aircraft and jeopardizing their safety,” said a statement from the Russian Defence Ministry, carried by the TASS news agency.
The ministry claimed that the jets’ pilots “did not establish communications” with Tu-95MS strategic bombers, which had been flying “over the neutral waters of the Sea of Japan.”
Earlier Tuesday, South Korean military officials said a number of Russian and Chinese bombers and aircraft had entered South Korea’s so-called air defence identification zone (KADIZ) without giving prior notice.
A Russian military aircraft then entered South Korean airspace near the islets of Dokdo off the country’s eastern coast, according to a Defence Department spokesman in Seoul.
The islets, known in English as the Liancourt Rocks, are also claimed by Japan, which calls them Takeshima.
This would be the first time that a Russian aircraft has violated South Korean airspace.
The South Korean air force scrambled several fighter jets in response, according to officials. They fired warning shots and flares at the aircraft. The Russian plane turned around initially but later returned for a short time, officials said.
It remains unclear whether the Russian and Chinese aircraft had been participating in a joint exercise.
Seoul says it has summoned representatives from the Russian and Chinese embassies to lodge a formal complaint over the incident.
South Korea announced in 2013 that it was extending the KADIZ zone to the south amid a territorial spat in the East China Sea. This area no longer belongs to South Korea, although Seoul still expects foreign aircraft to identify themselves before entering the airspace there.
South Korea says China and Russia repeatedly violate the KADIZ.
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