South Korea says it fired hundreds of warning shots at a Russian military aircraft after it entered its territorial airspace. The incursion would be the first between the two countries in recent history.
The encounter took place Tuesday, as Russia and China were conducting a joint air patrol in the Asia Pacific. South Korea says aircraft from both of those countries entered its air defense identification zone over a chain of disputed islands in the East Sea (also known as the Sea of Japan).
South Korea says a Russian A-50 command and control aircraft intruded twice, prompting it to fire more than 300 warning shots. Russia says it was flying over neutral waters, and that South Korean jets dangerously intercepted their planes.
Peter Layton, a former Royal Australian Air Force pilot and analyst at the Griffith Asia Institute, called the military confrontation “extraordinary” and “a very serious matter” in an interview with NPR.
Japan also says the Russian A-50 intruded into their airspace, prompting it to send up fighter jets as a response. The incidents occurred over two small islands claimed by both South Korea and Japan, known as Dokdo to the Koreans, and Takeshima to the Japanese.