October 23, 2019 11:16
Six Russian military airplanes intruded into Korea's air defense identification zone on Tuesday, prompting Seoul to scramble 10 fighter jets to warn them, the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said.
This is the latest in a series of such incidents involving Russian military aircraft, with 20 being reported this year alone.
Chinese military aircraft have also frequently violated the KADIZ this year.
Out of the six Russian planes, two bombers even flew south over the East Sea and southern Jeju Island, then up to the West Sea. The military broadcast warnings, but the bombers continued their flight.
A military official said, "Russian planes have strayed into the KADIZ without authorization many times, but it is rare for as many as six of them to enter at the same time and fly all the way up to the West Sea."
The Russian planes ignored the warnings and conducted military maneuvers for almost six hours over the Korean Peninsula, even after the Korean fighter jets were scrambled.
Shin Won-shik, a former JCS vice chairman, said, "Russia seems to be 'testing' Korea to see how it responds after the scrapping of [the bilateral intelligence-sharing pact] with Japan."
Park Won-gon at Handong Global University said, "Russia has sensed that security cooperation between Korea, the U.S. and Japan is weakening, so such provocations will continue."
When asked for a response, Russia's Defense Ministry said its pilots "strictly adhered to international regulations."
Russian military planes also entered Japan's air defense identification zone several times on Tuesday as Japan was holding an enthronement ceremony for its new emperor.
Pundits said those incursions by Russia may have to do with the U.S. decision to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Moscow. The U.S. is apparently considering Korea and Japan as potential locations for the deployment of mid-range missiles.
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