South Korean jets fire warning shots at Russian plane after airspace violations

The Russian bomber initially violated South Korea’s so-called aerial identification zone off its east coast for about three minutes shortly after 9am local time on Tuesday morning, the South’s defence ministry said.

South Korean fighter jets have fired warning shots after a Russian military plane twice violated the country’s airspace, officials in Seoul said.

Chinese military aircraft also entered South Korean airspace on Tuesday, first on their own and then with Russian planes, officials said.

Officials said South Korean F-15k and F-16k jets were scrambled to intercept the plane and fired flares after sending a message to the aircraft.

The Russian plane left the area above disputed islands in the East sea but it returned and violated the airspace again, the ministry official said. He said the South Korean fighter jets fired warning shots again. The Russian plane did not return fire in either incident, the official said.

“The South Korean military took tactical action including dropping flares and firing a warning shot,” a defence ministry statement said.

It was the first time a Russian military plane violated South Korean airspace, according to South Korean officials.

The encounter with the Russian plane occurred near the easternmost islets of Dokdo, disputed islands controlled by South Korea but claimed by Japan, the military said.

Earlier in the day, two other Russian planes and two Chinese aircraft had entered the Korean air defence zone.

At around 6:44am local time two Chinese warplanes flew above the East sea and stayed for about 30 minutes, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

The Chinese aircraft later joined two Russian bombers and flew southward together over the East sea. The four encroached upon the defence zone at around 8:40am for a 25-minute flight, an officer from the Korean joint chiefs of staff told Yonhap.

Chinese planes have occasionally entered South Korea’s air defense identification zone in recent years.

It was not known whether the two countries entered the air space deliberately.

South Korea’s defense ministry said it planned to summon Russian and Chinese embassy officials later on Tuesday to register formal protests.

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