SEOUL -- Two Russian Tu-95 bombers, also known as Bear during the Cold War decades, have violated a sensitive air defense zone claimed by Seoul, prompting a squadron of South Korean jet fighters to scramble.
The standoff off the east coast took place on Thursday after two Russian bombers flew into the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) at 3:37 a.m. (1837 GMT) without permission and stayed in the violation zone for about 29 minutes, according to a military source.
South Korean fighter jets, including F-15Ks, made an emergency sortie to intercept and send warning messages. "In communication with our side, they clearly defined their purpose of flight,” the source said. No additional measures were taken outside of the warning messages that were communicated.
Japan also released a defense ministry statement, accusing two Russian warplanes of infiltrating its defense zone on Thursday. Sporadically, Russian and Chinese military planes have violated the air defense zones of South Korea and Japan. The KADIZ overlaps air defense zones designated by China and Japan.
Unauthorized flights through air defense zones could spark a conflict, but Chinese planes have made strategic flights more frequently in recent years in an apparent attempt to strengthen Beijing's clout in the region.
(This article was contributed by Joseph Kwak, an Aju Business Daily contractor based in San Francisco)
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