China, Russia Violate South Korean Airspace, Warning Shots Fired
Tensions are rising in the Sea of Japan after South Korea accused Russia and China of airspace violations on July 23, 2019. Reconnaissance aircraft and warplanes were allegedly spotted over Dokdo Island, prompting South Korea to fire warning shots. The incident sparked a diplomatic crisis involving Japan as well
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry summoned Russian and Chinese diplomats earlier today to protest against what it considers a serious airspace violation.
“The reason why we summoned Russian Deputy Chief of Mission without prior notice is to lodge a stern protest on Russian aircraft’s entering KADIZ [Korea Air Defense Identification Zone] and violation of our airspace and to strongly urge them to prevent a recurrence,” South Korea’s Deputy Minister for Political Affairs, Yoon Soon-Gu, said.
Earlier in the day, South Korean warplanes fired hundreds of warning shots at a Russian military aircraft that entered South Korean airspace, with Chinese bombers also entering South Korea’s air defense identification zone.
“This morning, three Russian military aircraft and two Chinese military aircraft entered the KADIZ, which is the Korea Air Defence Identification Zone. Among them, one Russian military aircraft violated South Korean airspace over Dokdo, so our military responded,” South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kim In-Chul said.
Meanwhile, China officials dismissed South Korea’s declaration, saying that the country’s air defense is not air space, and therefore shouldn’t be considered as such.
“Air recognition area is not airspace. Okay?” Chinese military attache Du Nong Yi said.
A separate Russian A-50 aircraft later twice flew over Dokdo, an island that is occupied by South Korea but is also claimed by Japan, which calls it Takeshima.
This prompted Japan to react to the incident, this time lodging a protest against South Korea and Russia over the disputed territories.
“Right after we confirmed the actions, we lodged a stern protest through diplomatic channels to both Russia and South Korea and demanded the prevention of a recurrence. In light of Japan’s stance regarding sovereignty over Takeshima, we find it extremely regrettable that the South Korean military’s aircraft carried out warning shots, and it is totally unacceptable. We lodged a stern protest to South Korea and firmly demanded the prevention of such a recurrence,” Japanese Cabinet Secretary-General Yoshihide Suga said.
Russia denied violating any airspace and accused South Korean pilots of being reckless.
It was the first time a Russian military aircraft has violated South Korean airspace and for a South Korean aircraft to fire warning shots.
The incident could raise tension in a region that has for years been overshadowed by hostility between the United States and North Korea.