South Korean fighter jets intercepted and fired warning shots at Russian military aircraft Tuesday after it violated the country’s airspace, the country’s defense officials said.
Yonhap News Agency, quoting officers from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported the Russian bomber violated the country’s airspace above the East Sea near South Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo earlier in the day in a three-minute flight twice each in breach of international treaties.
“It is unprecedented for a Russian warplane to violate South Korean airspace, though their violation of Korea’s air defense identification zone (KADIZ) has occurred occasionally,” said officers.
The Russian plane did not return fire in either incident, the official said.
Officials said South Korean F-15K and F-16K fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the plane and fired flares after sending a message to the aircraft.
“The South Korean military took tactical action including dropping flares and firing a warning shot,” a defence ministry statement said.
It was the first time a Russian military plane violated South Korean airspace, according to South Korean officials.
Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the United States’ Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center told CNN reporters that the shooting a warning shot in the air was “very very serious” and “very, very rare.”
Schuster said that the fact shots were fired meant Seoul had viewed the violation as a serious and deliberate act, adding he couldn’t explain why the Russian plane would come back again after the first warning.