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South Korea fires warning shots at Russian military aircraft

Posted at 9:48 PM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 00:48:32-04

Seoul (CNN) -- South Korean fighter jets fired warning shots at a Russian military aircraft Tuesday after it violated the country's airspace, the country's defense officials said.

In a statement, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the Russian military aircraft twice violated South Korean airspace off the country's eastern coast on Tuesday morning.

The South Korean military said they flew above an island claimed by both South Korea and Japan, first at 9.09 a.m. local time and then again at 9.33 a.m., each time for just a matter of minutes.In response, South Korea deployed F-15F and KF-16 fighter jets, the statement said, and fired warning shots both times the Russian aircraft entered their airspace.

The shots were fired using 20mm weapon, according to the Ministry of Defense.It was one of two incidents involving South Korea, Tuesday. According to the country's Joint Chiefs of Staff, two Chinese aircraft entered South Korea's Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) earlier on Tuesday.

Airspace is defined as the area 12 nautical miles from a country's borders, which falls entirely under its control. An ADIZ is an area in which the controlling country demands identification, location and control of aircraft's direction, but doesn't necessarily have any rights of engagement under international law.

South Korea's KADIZ was first established in 1950 and most recently adjusted by Seoul in 2013.The two Chinese planes entered the KADIZ at 6.44 a.m. local time and then 7.49 a.m., after which they met up with the two Russian aircraft. The four planes then entered the KADIZ together at about 8.40 a.m. and remained there for 24 minutes, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The incident is unusual. Though East Asia is riven by numerous, long-standing territorial disputes, Russia and South Korea rarely come into conflict.

Top Russian and South Korean leaders at the G20 in Osaka, Japan, in June, where they praised their warming bilateral relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin said South Korea was "one of our key partners" in Asia.

Their only point of contention is the island of Noktundo, which Russia claims as its own territory but South Korea maintains is an important part of Korean territory.