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(2nd LD) Russia says airspace intrusion was not intended: Cheong Wa Dae

Politics 12:30 July 24, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info, background throughout)

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- Russia has told South Korea that the latest airspace intrusion by one of its warplanes was not intended and was probably caused by a technical glitch, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.

Expressing "deep regret" over the latest incident, Russia said that a technical problem probably caused the plane to intrude into areas it had not planned to go to.

"Russia said its defense ministry will immediately launch a probe and take necessary steps," Yoon Do-han, senior Cheong Wa Dae secretary for public communication, told a press briefing.

The message was delivered to a senior South Korean defense ministry official by a Russian military attache on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, a Russian warplane had intruded into South Korea's airspace above the East Sea twice, right after Russian and Chinese military aircraft entered Korea's air defense identification zone (KADIZ) without prior notice.

This image captured from Russia's defense ministry website shows its A-50 early warning and control airplane. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The Russian plane incursion prompted South Korea's Air Force to fire warning shots. Cheong Wa Dae lodged a formal compliant with Russia afterward over the incident.

Russia said the flight was part of joint air drills with China.

"Moscow said if the aircraft flew according to an initially planned route, this incident would not have occurred," Yoon said.

Russia asked South Korea to provide data related to the intrusion, including the location and time, for its investigation.

To prevent similar incidents from occurring, Moscow wants to develop an emergency cooperation scheme between the two nations' air forces, Yoon added.

"Russia said it respects international and South Korea's domestic laws and that the trespassing was not intended. It hopes bilateral ties with South Korea will develop, unhampered by this case," he added.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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