Russian, Chinese Fighter Jets Buzz Korean Airspace

  • By Ahn Jun-yong, Lee Min-seok

    July 24, 2019 09:45

    A Russian warplane twice violated Korean airspace over the easternmost islets of Dokdo on Tuesday while Chinese and Russian bombers flew into Korea's Air Defense Identification Zone without notice.

    The Air Force fired 360 warning shots toward the Russian jets. This was the first time since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War that a foreign military aircraft violated Korean airspace. The incident occurred as security cooperation between Korea and Japan has been undermined by diplomatic friction.

    It came as the U.S.' belligerent National Security Adviser John Bolton, thought to be the chief architect of a putative war with Iran, was visiting Korea.

    China and Russia were conducting joint military exercises on Tuesday and their planes whisked through the zone over the span of around three hours.

    ADIZs are not territorial airspace but require incoming planes to identify themselves to the country that claims them.

    This combination photo from Japan's Self-Defense Forces shows Russia's A-50 early-warning plane (top) and Tu-95 bomber (center) and China's H-6 bomber.

    According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, two Chinese H-6 bomber planes intruded into the ADIZ northwest of the submerged shelf of Ieo at around 6:44 a.m. Later, two Russian Tu-95 bombers and four other Chinese and Russian military planes repeatedly hovered around the zone, and a Russian A-50 early-warning plane invaded Korea's airspace over Dokdo twice between 9:00 and 9:37 a.m.

    The Koran Air Force scrambled F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets to fire warning shots. They attempted more than 20 times to contact the Chinese bombers that intruded into the ADIZ and tried to communicate with the Russian early-warning plane 10 times, but received no response.

    China rejected a Korean complaint by pointing out that the zone is not official Korean airspace, while Russia claimed Korean fighter jets threatened its aircraft.

    Chinese military planes have intruded into the ADIZ 25 times this year without identifying themselves, and Russian fighter planes flew into the zone 13 times so far this year. But this is the first time they intruded simultaneously.

    The incursions occurred at a time when the U.S. is pushing ahead with a new "Indo-Pacific strategy" aimed at curbing Beijing's growing might in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. China and Russia have protested at the U.S. and a "coalition of the willing" sending warships into the Straits of Hormuz to stoke conflict with Iran.

    National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong in turn lodged a protest against the incursions with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Cheong Wa Da said. The Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry summoned China's Ambassador to Korea Qiu Guohong and Russian Deputy Chief of Mission Maxim Volkov to protest.

    Russia may have intended to drive a rift in the security cooperation between Korea, the U.S. and Japan by agitating already-troubled Seoul-Tokyo relations by flying over Dokdo, to which Japan maintains a spurious claim.

    Japan protested against the Korean fighter jets firing shots over Dokdo, but the Foreign Ministry here said it "cannot accept" the complaint since the islets are Korean.

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