Guidance

South Korea, Russia: What to Make of a Midair Interception Over Disputed Waters

Jul 23, 2019 | 19:43 GMT
Seoul said it fired warning shots at a Russian aircraft in its claimed airspace on July 23, but Moscow denied that it intruded on South Korean airspace.

An aerial picture shows a group of islets controlled by South Korea but also claimed by Japan in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

(KOREA POOL/AFP/Getty Images)

An odd set of confrontations unfolded July 23 around the Korean Peninsula involving South Korea, Russia, China and Japan. According to an official South Korean account of the events, early on July 23, two Chinese H-6 bombers entered South Korea's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) near Ieodo, a submerged rock claimed by both South Korea and China in the Yellow Sea. They later entered the ADIZ once again at Ulleung island off South Korea's east coast in the Sea of Japan before being joined by Russian TU-50 bombers and re-entering the ADIZ for a third time. After this, a Russian A-50 early warning aircraft and two Tu-95 bombers entered the ADIZ around Dokdo Island -- a maritime space that Japan also claims as the Takeshima Islands -- before the A-50 passed into South Korean-claimed airspace, leaving it and then reentering it again. South Korea scrambled jets to respond to both alleged entries by...

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