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South Korean Air Force Fires Warning Shots at Joint Russia-China Air Patrol

Yesterday, Russia and China carried out what it said was the first “long-range joint air patrol” in the Asia-Pacific region, but the mission drew hundreds of warning shots from South Korean military, as well as a stern response from Japan. 

South Korea said that one of the Russian planes, a Beriev A-50 early warning and control aircraft, flew too close and intruded twice into South Korea’s territorial airspace – an area which is actually disputed territory surrounding a cluster of islands claimed by both South Korea and Japan.

In response to the Russian-Chinese maneuvers, South Korea scrambled F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, firing some 20 flares and 360 machine gun rounds according to reports.

Russia disputed the claim, stating that two of its Tu-95MS bombers were on a routine flight over neutral waters and did not enter South Korean territory.

Japan also scrambled jets in response to the Chinese and Russian patrol. Japan has since registered formal complaints against both Russia and South Korea for their actions over what it called “our territory,” said the Kyodo News agency.

Jonathan Miller, a senior fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo, believes that the incident was a provocation by Russia and China, stating that it “inflames tensions between South Korea and Japan, which is in a sense both in Russia and China’s interest because it weakens the alliance network with the United States.”

Expect hawks in the Trump White House to seize on the incident in order to ratchet-up tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.


IMAGE: Russian A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft flying near the Korean-controlled island called Takeshima in Japanese Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

Antiwar.com reports…

What is being described as the first ever joint Russia-China long-range joint air patrol ended up in a substantial confrontation, with South Korean jets scrambling, and firing 360 rounds of “warning shots” when they say the Russian planes violated South Korean airspace.

South Korea’s planes fired at an A-50, a command plane based on the more common Il-76 transport. South Korea’s jets were F-15F and KF-16 fighter jets. Russia denies violating South Korean airspace.

This is a difference of opinion on who actually owns some contested islands. Japan backed South Korea’s claims, while Russia and China don’t support the South Korean ownership of the islands, and therefore not the airspace either.

The long-range patrol was chiefly made up of long-range strategic bombers, and neither Russia nor China included an escort to defend them from a potential attack by fighters. That might change in future patrols.

READ MORE CHINA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire China Files

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