Russian military denies violating South Korean airspace


TU-95 MS Russian strategic bombers and missile carriers above the Kremlin, Russia. (File photo: IC)

The Russian Defense Ministry denied on Tuesday that its strategic Tu-95 MS missile carriers had violated South Korean airspace and had been met with warning shots from South Korean warplanes.

"The route of the Tu-95 MS aircraft passed without deviations from the plan in accordance with international regulations at a distance of more than 25 km from the Dokdo (Takeshima) Islands without violating the airspace of South Korea," the ministry said in a statement.

It said that the two aircraft performed earlier on Tuesday a planned flight in the airspace above the neutral waters of the Sea of Japan.

According to the ministry, two South Korean F-16 fighters approached the Russian planes in the area of the Dokdo (Takeshima) Islands and "carried out non-professional maneuvering, crossing the course of the Russian strategic missile carriers and creating a threat to their security."

South Korean pilots did not get in touch with the crew of the Tu-95 MS, and after shooting flares, flew away from the Russian aircraft, the ministry's statement said.

On Monday, western media quoted South Korean defense officials as saying that Russian strategic bombers and a reconnaissance aircraft, which accompanied the Tu-95, had violated the country's airspace, forcing the South Korean jets to fire 360 rounds of warning shots.

The Russian ministry denied there had been warning shots from the South Korean military planes.

"If Russian pilots felt a security threat, the response would be quick," the statement said.

It was not the first time that South Korean pilots had unsuccessfully tried to prevent Russian military aircraft flights over the neutral waters of the Sea of Japan referring to some "air defense identification zone arbitrarily established by South Korea," the ministry said.

Such zones are not stipulated by international rules and are thereby not recognized by Russia, which has repeatedly informed South Korea about it through various channels, it said.