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S. Korea calls for Russia's measures to prevent air defense zone intrusions

Defense 12:01 October 24, 2019

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Oct. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea called on Russia to take measures to prevent its military aircraft from entering Seoul's air defense identification zone without prior notification, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The South made the request during a joint military committee meeting that began Wednesday, a day after six Russian military planes breached the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) over the East Sea four times.

"In order to prevent any recurrences, we've delivered our stance to the Russian side," JCS spokesman Col. Kim Jun-rak told a regular briefing. He did not elaborate on what Russia responded.

When South Korea lodged a strong complaint over the incident on Tuesday, Moscow denied any violations, claiming that its pilots regularly perform flights "in strict compliance with" international rules.

"During the meeting, the two sides shared the need to prevent accidental military clashes and to boost mutual cooperation, and agreed to make concerted efforts," Kim added.

So far this year, Russian aircraft have breached the zone 20 times. On July 23, its A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft also intruded into the South Korean territorial airspace over the easternmost islets of Dokdo, prompting the Air Force to fire hundreds of warning shots.

Air defense identification zones are not territorial airspace and are not bound by international law. They are areas each country zones off to prevent infiltration by foreign planes and accidental clashes.

This compilation photo shows Russia's A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft (top) and Tu-95 long-range bomber, the types of aircraft that entered South Korea's air defense identification zone on Oct. 22, 2019. The images were captured from official photos released by the Japanese and Russian defense ministries. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This week's meeting of the two countries' regular military consultative body was meant to be for the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a military communication line to exchange their flight information as part of efforts to prevent accidental midair clashes, according to the JCS.

Seoul and Moscow have been in talks since 2004. The JCS has said that the two sides wrapped up consultations on the draft of the envisioned MOU in November last year, it added.

JCS officer Brig. Gen. Nam Wan-soo reportedly led the Korean delegation, and a Russian military officer of the same rank represented Moscow.

Meanwhile, the JCS corrected part of its previous announcement on the type of a Russian aircraft that entered KADIZ on Tuesday.

In the release issued on Tuesday, the JCS said that an A-50 early-warning aircraft, three SU-27 fighter jets and two TU-95 bombers breached the zone. But spokesperson Kim said on Thursday that SU-35S advanced fighter jets were involved, not SU-27s, saying that Korean pilots on the mission misunderstood the account when seeing the aircraft with the naked eye due to outward similarities between the two types of aircraft.


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