The Yomiuri ShimbunThe Defense Ministry has confirmed that a Russian military aircraft violated the airspace over Takeshima, Shimane Prefecture, on Tuesday morning.
South Korea, which illegally occupies the islets it calls Dokdo, said it scrambled fighter jets that fired about 360 rounds of warning shots after the Russian A-50 reconnaissance aircraft failed to respond to radio from the South Korean fighters, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others.
Japan has lodged protests against Russia and South Korea through diplomatic channels.
The Defense Ministry monitors the Takeshima airspace using radar and other means. According to the ministry, other than South Korean military aircraft, there had not been any confirmed cases of foreign military aircraft violating the airspace.
Two Chinese bombers heading to the Sea of Japan from the East China Sea entered Japan’s air defense identification zone on Tuesday morning, the ministry said, which prompted the Air Self-Defense Force to scramble fighters.
Subsequently, two Russian bombers joined the Chinese aircraft. The Russian A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, which was flying nearby, moved south toward the east of Takeshima and entered the airspace at 9:09 a.m., staying in the airspace for about three minutes. The A-50 then circled to head north and flew for about four minutes in the west of Takeshima’s airspace before pulling away toward Russia.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported the possibility that China and Russia were trying to warn the United States and South Korea over their planned joint drills scheduled next month.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono said at a press conference on Tuesday: “The Takeshima islands are our nation’s territory, thus only our nation should be dealing with Russia’s violation of our airspace. South Korea’s involvement is incompatible with our nation’s stance.”
Regarding the protest lodged by Tokyo, an official close to the South Korean Foreign Ministry said: “We can’t accept the claim. We flatly refuse the protest.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Tuesday that the Russian and Chinese air forces conducted their first joint patrol over the Sea of Japan. In addition to the A-50, the Chinese and Russian strategic bombers joined the patrol, flying over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. The ministry also said the planes flew more than 25 kilometers away from Takeshima, denying that Russia had violated the airspace that extends about 22 kilometers from the islets. Speech