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South Korea Fires 360 Warning Shots, 10 Flares At Russian Bombers: Seoul Officials

South Korea, Japan, Russia and China were involved in an aerial confrontation Tuesday, as Russia allegedly violated South Korean airspace.

South Korea says its F-15F and KF-16 jets fired 360 warning shots and deployed 10 flares against a Russian A-50 command aircraft Tuesday after the Russian warplane allegedly violated South Korean airspace. Two Russian Tu-95 bombers and two Chinese H-6 bombers accompanied the A-50.

The airspace violated is above two small contested islands Japan and South Korea both claim. Because of this, Japan also scrambled jets in response to the alleged violation, CNN reported.

South Korean aircraft “conduced unprofessional maneuvers by crossing the course of Russian strategic missile carriers, threatening their security,” said the Russian Ministry of Defense, according to CNN. The ministry didn’t mention the A-50 command aircraft or the warning shots that South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reported to have occurred.

Russia also said, according to CNN, the flight was “carried out in order to deepen and develop Russian-Chinese relations” and was “not aimed against third countries.”

Despite Russian denial of an incursion, Chung Eui-yong, director of South Korea’s National Security Office, said the 24-minute event is being taken “very seriously,” CNN reported. “And if this kind of action is repeated, we will take even stronger measures,” Chung said.

South Korea said this is the first time a foreign plane has violated its airspace since the Korean War, The Associated Press reported. Because Japan claims the islands and associated airspace as its own, it did not recognize the South Korean warning shots as legitimate defensive measures.

Following the confrontation, South Korean officials summoned Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying to register their official complaint. “China and South Korea are friendly neighbors,” Hua said, hesitating to use the word “violation” when characterizing the actions of the Chinese bombers. “You should be careful when using it [the word violation], because we are not clear about the situation,” she said, reported the AP.

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