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23.07.2019 Asia

South Korea fires hundreds of warning shots as Russia violates airspace

By RFI
©South Korean Defence Ministry / AFP
LISTEN JUL 23, 2019
©South Korean Defence Ministry / AFP

South Korea fired nearly 400 warning shots on Tuesday after a Russian air force plane twice violated a disputed airspace that is claimed by both Seoul and Tokyo.

Japan also complained to Russia for the violation
"We are studying this incident very seriously and we will take much tougher action if it happens again," said a South Korean national security advisor, Chung Eui-yong, who was quoted by the South Korean presidency.South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff reacted by sending F-15K and KF-16 fighters to intercept the Russian A-50 military plane, which was flying over the Dokdo Islands, claimed as Takeshima by Japan.

South Korean security unleashed around 80 warning shots during the first Russian incursion, and 280 shots during the second.

The first violation occurred after 9AM Monday morning

, lasting three minutes, with the second instance lasting four minutes. At one point South Korean and Russian aircraft were only one kilometer away, according to Seoul. 

Japan also deployed military planes.
"We learned that Russian military planes flying over the Sea of ​​Japan this morning violated our airspace twice near Takeshima," said Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.

"Given this information, we protested strongly," said Suga, adding that Japan also called South Korea's reaction of hundreds of warning shots “extremely regrettable.”

Russian denial
Moscow denied it had violated the airspace, saying the complaints were based on an "arbitrarily established" unilateral air defence reconnaissance zone rule established by South Korea, but not recognised by anyone, nor ensconced in international law.

"Two Russian Armed Forces Tu-95MS bombers made a planned flight over the neutral waters of the Sea of ​​Japan," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that there was no warning shot.

A South Korean military source said that the Russian plane flew at a steady speed and "did not seem to have any hostile intent.”

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