South Korea said it had sent fighter jets to respond to a group of Russian and Chinese fighter jets that entered its buffer zone unexpectedly.
Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had detected seven Russian and two Chinese military jets in the country’s air defense identification zone off its east coast.
Anticipating these measures, South Korea had previously sent fighter jets and other planes to the region to avoid accidental clashes, but the Russian and Chinese planes left without entering South Korea’s territorial airspace. , said the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
China later told South Korea via a military communications channel that the flights were part of its routine military exercises with Russia.
“(We) assess the current situation as a joint exercise between China and Russia and further analysis is needed,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday that the Russian military was conducting joint air patrols with China.
On Friday, “an air group consisting of two Russian Aerospace Forces Tu-95MS strategic bombers and two China People’s Liberation Army Air Force Hun-6K strategic bombers carried out air patrols in the area. above the waters of the Sea of Japan. and the East China Sea, ”he said.
The ministry said the joint patrol was carried out to further develop Russian-Chinese relations, improve coordination between the two armed forces and “strengthen global strategic stability.”
Air defense identification zones generally extend beyond the country’s territory to allow more time to respond to potentially hostile aircraft. Military aircraft entering another country’s air defense identification zone are required to notify this in advance.
In recent years, Chinese and Russian fighter jets have frequently entered South Korea’s air defense identification zones as they increasingly demonstrate their strengths amid increasing competition with the United States. United States.
In 2019, South Korea said its fighter jets fired hundreds of warning shots at a Russian military plane it said twice violated its national airspace off its east coast. .
Russia then denied that its planes entered South Korean territory.