South Korean fighter jets fired warning shots at a Russian military aircraft on Tuesday after it violated the airspace of the Asian country, South Korean defense officials said.
In a statement, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said Russian military planes twice violated South Korean airspace on the east coast of the country on Tuesday morning.
The South Korean army said Russian planes flew over an island claimed by South Korea and Japan, first at 9: 9 am local time and then again at 9.33 am, each time only for a few minutes.
In response, South Korea deployed F-15F and KF-16 fighter jets, the statement said and made warning shots on both occasions when one of the Russian planes entered its airspace.
The shots were made with a 20 mm gun, according to the Ministry of Defense. It is the first time that a foreign country violates South Korean airspace, the ministry said.
It was one of two incidents related to South Korea on Tuesday. According to the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, two Chinese planes entered the South Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) on Tuesday.
Airspace is defined as the area 12 nautical miles from the borders of a country, which is completely under your control. An ADIZ is an area in which the controlling country requires the identification, location and control of the direction of the aircraft, but does not necessarily have any right of commitment under international law.
The South Korean KADIZ was first established in 1950 and was recently adjusted by Seoul in 2013.
The two Chinese planes entered KADIZ at 6:44 am local time and then at 7:49 am, after which they met two Russian planes. The four planes entered KADIZ together around 8:40 am and remained there for 24 minutes, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The incident is unusual. Although East Asia is divided by numerous long-standing territorial disputes, Russia and South Korea rarely conflict.
Russian and South Korean leaders met during the G20 in Osaka, Japan, in June, where they praised the warming of their bilateral relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin said South Korea is “one of our key partners” in Asia.
Its only point of discussion is the island of Noktundo, which Russia claims as its own territory, but South Korea maintains that it is an important part of Korean territory.