South Korean jets fired flares and warning shots Tuesday after a Russian warplane violated its territorial airspace, according to Seoul’s defense ministry.
South Korea scrambled multiple jets, including F-15Ks and F-16Ks, after the Russian plane entered South Korea’s territory over the East Sea, South Korean officials say.
After the South Korean jets fired warning shots, the Russian plane left South Korean territory. However, it returned a short time later, prompting the South Korean jets to fire more warning shots.
Two other Russian planes, along with two Chinese military aircraft, were also operating within South Korea’s air defense identification zone on Tuesday, Seoul officials say.
Air defense identification zones, which are not recognized by international treaties or laws, are meant to help countries identify and communicate with approaching foreign planes, in order to prevent miscommunication and accidental clashes.
Chinese and Russian planes have occasionally entered South Korea’s air defense identification zones. But South Korean officials say this is the first time that a Russian plane has violated its territorial skies.
Seoul will lodge an official protest with Chinese and Russian embassy officials, South Korea’s defense ministry says. Moscow and Beijing have not commented on the incident.