Thursday witnessed a significant surge in tensions in East Asia’s airspace as a joint operation involving Chinese and Russian military aircraft sparked multiple responses from regional powers.
Japan’s Defense Ministry reported scrambling jets to monitor Chinese and Russian bombers and fighters engaged in joint flights, heightening concerns over regional security.
The Defense Ministry confirmed sightings of various aircraft, including China’s H-6, J-16, Y-8, and Russia’s Tu-95, Tu-142, Su-35, flying towards the East China Sea through the channel between Japan and South Korea.
South Korea also scrambled fighter jets on Thursday when Chinese and Russian military planes entered its air defence zone, South Korea’s military said.
The aircraft entered the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) off its east coast between 11:53 a.m. (0253 GMT) and 12:10 p.m. and then left the area, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
Notably, while airspace falls under international regulations, there are no established international laws governing air defense zones. Moscow has not recognized Korea’s air defense zone, while Beijing contends that the zone does not constitute territorial airspace, advocating for freedom of movement for all nations within it.
This series of events underscores the growing complexities surrounding aerial activities and differing interpretations of air defense zones among nations in the region, sparking diplomatic discord amid concerns about maintaining regional stability.