Four Russian, two Chinese aircraft crossed into Korea Air Defense Identification Zone over Sea of Japan, South Korea says.
South Korea’s military says it has deployed fighter jets in response to Chinese and Russian military planes flying into its air defence zone unannounced.
Four Russian and two Chinese aircraft crossed into the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) over the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, between 11:53am (02:53 GMT) and 12:10pm (03:10 GMT) on Thursday and then departed, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
The planes did not violate South Korea’s territorial airspace, the military said.
An ADIZ is usually an area where countries may unilaterally demand that foreign aircraft take special steps to identify themselves, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization.
That differs from a nation’s airspace, which usually means the space above its territory, extending 12 nautical miles away from its coastline.
Unlike airspace, there are no international laws that govern air defence zones.
The JCS said it had detected the foreign aircraft before they flew into the KADIZ and scrambled its air force fighter jets to take tactical measures.
A JCS official said that South Korea raised its objections to the aircraft movement with China, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. However, it did not address the issue with Russia.
Moscow does not recognise Korea’s air defence zone. Beijing has said the zone is not territorial airspace and all countries should enjoy freedom of movement there.
China and Russia are North Korea’s traditional allies, and South Korea’s ally Washington warned last month that military ties between Pyongyang and Moscow were “growing and dangerous”.
Chinese and Russian warplanes last approached South Korea’s airspace in June, as they conducted joint air force patrols over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Seoul deployed fighter jets in response to that activity.
Military jets from Moscow and Beijing entered and exited Seoul’s KADIZ in November 2022, prompting Seoul to scramble its fighter jets.