SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea said it scrambled fighter jets in response to an intrusion into its air defence identification zone by 19 Russian and Chinese military aircraft on Tuesday.
Four Chinese warplanes entered the Korea Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ) followed by 15 Russian aircraft, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
The South Korean military dispatched air force fighters to take tactical measures.
The South Korean military said the Chinese military had informed South Korea that its planes were carrying out routine training before the Chinese aircraft entered the KADIZ.
“This incident seems to be a joint military drill between China and Russia but it requires a further analysis,” the JCS said in a statement.
South Korea’s foreign ministry contacted China and Russia and told them there should not be a recurrence, Yonhap news agency reported.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the mission was part of annual cooperation plans between China and Russia, “not aimed at any third party”.
“During this training, Chinese and Russian warplanes abided by international law and did not enter South Korean air space,” he told reporters.
China’s Defence Ministry said in a separate statement that four of its H-6K bombers took part in what it termed a “joint patrol” with two Russian Tu-95 aircraft.
In July last year, South Korean warplanes fired hundreds of warning shots toward Russian military aircraft on a joint air patrol with China, when they entered South Korean airspace.
South Korea and Japan, which both scrambled jets to intercept the patrol at the time, accused Russia and China of violating their airspace. Russia and China denied it.
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Additional reporting by Yew Lun Tian in Beijing; Editing by Robert Birsel and Andrew Heavens)