Chinese, Russian planes enter South Korean air defense zone
The warplanes all eventually left the zone without violating South Korean airspace, Seoul said. Tokyo also scrambled jets over what Russia described as "air patrols."
South Korea scrambled its fighter jets on Wednesday as Russian and Chinese warplanes entered its air defense identification zone.
Japan's Air Self Defense Force also scrambled jets after the Chinese and Russian warplanes flew into the Sea of Japan, Tokyo's defense ministry said in a press release.
What else do we know about the incident?
Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that two Chinese H-6 bombers repeatedly entered and exited South Korea's air defense zone along the country's southern and northeastern coasts.
Hours later, they entered from the Sea of Japan alongside six Russian warplanes, including two Su-35 jets and four TU-95 bombers.
The warplanes all left the zone and did not violate South Korea airspace, Seoul said.
"Our military deployed air force fighter jets even before Chinese and Russian aircraft entered the [air defense zone] to take tactical measures in case of contingency," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that Russia and China appeared to have "engaged in a combined air exercise."
In turn, Russia said its own aircraft and Chinese warplanes "carried out air patrols over the waters of the Japanese and East China Seas." Moscow insisted the planes "acted strictly in accordance with the provisions of international law" without violating foreign airspace.
What is an air defense identification zone?
An air defense identification zone is an area beyond a country's airspace in which it demands foreign aircraft take special steps to identify themselves. The concept is not defined in international treaties.
Moscow and Beijing do not recognize South Korea's air defense zone. In similar incidents in the past, China and Russia have said that their warplanes were conducting regular joint exercises.
In August, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff reported Russian warplanes entered the air defense zone, and in May there was another joint Russian-Chinese exercise. In 2019, South Korean warplanes fired warning shots at Russian military aircraft that had entered the zone.
sdi/dj (AFP, Reuters)