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Russian, Chinese Warplanes Briefly Enter South Korean Air Defense Zone

South Korea scrambled fighters on Friday as Russian and Chinese warplanes on a joint exercise briefly entered its air defense identification zone, military chiefs in Seoul said.

However, “there was no invasion of airspace,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. “Our military received a reply from the Chinese side that it was… normal training through the South Korea-China direct communication network.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had evaluated the situation to be a Russia-China joint exercise, and that the aircraft flew inside the zone for around 10 minutes.

South Korea dispatched F-15 and F-16 fighters along with an aerial refueling tanker as a “normal tactical measure” as the Russian and Chinese planes approached the zone, the Joint Chiefs of Staff added.

The incursion happened northeast of Dokdo — islets that are also claimed by Japan, which calls them Takeshima.

Air defense identification zones are outside a country or territory’s airspace, in which foreign aircraft are monitored for security reasons. However, they are self-declared and technically international airspace.

In 2019, South Korean fighter jets fired more than 400 warning shots and Japan complained to Moscow after a Russian military plane violated airspace near the disputed islets.

Russia said at the time that it did not recognize such zones.

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