Nearly 70 years since last breach . . .
South Korea’s Air Force found itself in an unprecedented situation Tuesday morning as it was forced to fire warning shots and escort Russian and Chinese military aircraft out of the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ). In total, 360 warning shots and 10 flares were used to repel the three Russian and two Chinese aircraft taking part in military drills that crossed into the KADIZ near the Dokdo-Takeshima islets. This was the first violation of South Korea’s airspace by a foreign military plane since the 1950-1953 Korean War.
More China-Russia military drills to come . . .
While South Korea deals with the fallout from the incident along with renewed claims of ownership of the Dokdo-Takeshima islands by the Japanese government, Russia has denied any intent to intrude, instead blaming the incident on a technical glitch while also calling the actions of South Korea’s Air Force “dangerous.” While working-level talks between Russia and South Korea are scheduled for Thursday to address the incident, new Chinese policy may signal more Russia-China joint military exercises to come. The intrusion into the KADIZ came a day after the release of China’s new defence white paper, which calls for increased military co-operation with Russia. A further indication came via a Tuesday press conference in which China’s defence ministry said the patrol by the five jets was for “upgrading joint operation capacity” between Russia and China and called for “strengthening co-operation on issues concerning [China and Russia’s] core interests.”
An opportune time . . .
South Korea-Japan relations are currently at an all-time low due to the recent trade dispute between the two economies. Russia and China appear to be seizing this opportunity to strengthen their military presence in the region, especially as the U.S. continues to ponder whether it wants to mediate the dispute between its two major regional allies. This move by China and Russia should be closely watched by others in the region, as the two powers seek to counterbalance the U.S. and its strong military influence on hot topic issues such as a nuclearized North Korea and the South China Sea.
- CNN: Warplanes from four countries face off in Asian confrontation
- The Korea Herald: South Korea fires warning shots at intruding Russian warplane
- The Wall Street Journal: China promises further military cooperation with Russia