Thu, Jul 25, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Russia wants S Korea airspace probe

‘REGRETTABLE’ INCIDENT:Beijing said that the joint Russia-China patrols were along established air routes and they ’didn’t enter the territorial airspace of other countries’

AP, SEOUL

Russia wants an investigation into a South Korean announcement that one of its military planes violated South Korea’s airspace, a senior lawmaker said yesterday, citing the acting Russian ambassador.

The US separately called for close consultation between Washington and Seoul to deal with similar incidents.

Seoul said South Korean fighter jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots to drive away the Russian reconnaissance plane that entered its airspace twice on Tuesday during a joint patrol with Chinese bombers.

Russia and China said none of their planes entered South Korea’s territory.

Lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun, chairman of the South Korean parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, quoted Acting Russian Ambassador to South Korea Maxim Volkov as telling him that Russia feels “regrettable” over the incident.

Yoon cited Volkov as saying Russia thinks an investigation was necessary and has requested related South Korean information.

Volkov told reporters he had explained to Yoon about Russia’s position on the incident, but declined to provide the contents of their conversation.

South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong later yesterday discussed the issue with visiting White House National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Chung explained to Bolton about South Korea’s “resolute” response to the Russia airspace violation and Bolton proposed the allies closely coordinate over similar incidents, the South Korean Presidential Office said in a statement.

Russia says two of its bombers were on a routine flight over neutral waters and did not violate South Korea’s airspace.

The Russian Ministry of Defense also denied that South Korean jets fired warning shots, though it said they flew close to the Russian planes in “unprofessional maneuvers.”

South Korea said it was the first time a foreign military plane had violated its airspace since the end of the 1950 to 1953 Korean War.

The South Korean foreign and defense ministries on Tuesday summoned Volkov and Russia’s deputy military attache in South Korea, Nikolai Marchenko, to register their complaints. They also summoned the Chinese ambassador and the defense attache to protest Beijing’s overflight.

According to South Korean accounts, the reconnaissance plane and two other Russian bombers on Tuesday entered South Korea’s air defense identification zone together with two Chinese bombers.

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense said that China and Russia carried out their first joint air patrol in Northeast Asia that “does not target any third party.”

Ministry spokesman Colonel Wu Qian (吳謙) said in Beijing that the two nations each sent two bombers for the patrols along established air routes and that they “didn’t enter the territorial airspace of other countries.”

The airspace that South Korea says the Russian reconnaissance plane entered is above a group of islets controlled by South Korea, but also claimed by Japan.

Japan subsequently protested both Russian and South Korean actions, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

He said in Tokyo that the latest incident does not affect Japan’s position that Seoul must first take steps toward resolving separate trade disputes between the two nations.

The South Korean Ministry of National Defense refuted the Japanese statement, saying that Seoul would sternly deal with any foreign intrusion on the islets.

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