South Korea says it fired warning shots at Russian military jet

Seoul says the Russian planes violated its airspace twice, prompting its air force to scramble fighter jets.

    Seoul deployed its fighter jets to intercept the plane and fired flares [File: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]
    Seoul deployed its fighter jets to intercept the plane and fired flares [File: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]

    The South Korean military on Tuesday fired warning shots at a military aircraft belonging to Russia that violated its airspace in the east coast, the Ministry of National Defence in Seoul said.

    The Russian jet breached South Korean airspace twice, prompting its air force to scramble fighter jets and fire warning shots, an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff told AFP news agency.

    Russia's defence ministry on Tuesday denied the air space violation and said South Korean pilots had not communicated with the Russian bombers, according to the RIA news agency.

    This was not the first time that South Korean pilots had interfered with a Russian military flight over neutral waters, the Russian ministry said. 

    Two Russian bombers and two Chinese bombers entered the Korea Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ) together early on Tuesday, the South Korean defence ministry said.

    A separate Russian early warning and control aircraft later twice violated South Korean airspace just after 9 am (midnight GMT on Monday), according to the South Korean military.

    In response, South Korea's air force deployed multiple F-15k and F-16k jets to intercept the plane and fired flares after sending a message to the aircraft.

    The Russian aircraft was an A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, an official at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, and South Korea scrambled F-15 and F-16 fighter jets in response to the intrusions.

    The South Korean jets fired about 360 rounds of ammunition during the incident, the JCS official said.

    First incident

    An official at South Korean defence ministry said it was the first time a Russian plane has violated South Korean airspace, adding that the military was investigating the matter.

    The encounter occurred near the easternmost islets of Dokdo, disputed islands controlled by the South but claimed by Japan, the South Korean military said.

    South Korea's top security adviser Chung Eui-yong on Tuesday lodged a strong objection with Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council of Russia, asking the council to assess the incident and take appropriate action, South Korea's presidential office said.

    "We take a very grave view of this situation and, if it is repeated, we will take even stronger action," Chung said, according to South Korea's presidential office.

    South Korea's foreign ministry plans to summon acting Russian Deputy Chief of Mission Maxim Volkov and Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong on Tuesday to lodge a stern protest and strongly urge them to prevent a recurrence, ministry spokesman Kim In-chul said.

    SOURCE: News agencies