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Russia expresses ‘deep regret’ over South Korea airspace violation, Seoul says

South Korea fighter jets fired hundreds of warning shots at Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers entering into South Korea’s airspace.

Russia expressed “deep regret” over one of its warplanes entering into South Korea’s airspace during its first joint air patrol with China Tuesday and promised to launch an investigation into the incident, South Korea’s presidential office said Wednesday.

Russia told the South Korean government that it will launch a probe into the case and take the necessary next steps depending on the investigation’s outcome, South Korea’s Cheong Wa Dae told the Yonhap News Agency.

On Tuesday, South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots in response to “multiple” Russian military planes that entered into the South’s airspace, officials said.

Russia confirmed Tuesday that it had carried out its first-ever joint air patrol with China, an event which prompted South Korea to scramble fighter jets in response. Moscow’s defense ministry said four bombers, supported by fighter jets, patrolled a pre-planned route over “neutral waters” in the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea, according to the BBC.

South Korea claimed that two Tu-95 bombers and one A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft entered the South’s air defense identification zone along with two Chinese bombers off its east coast before the A-50 intruded in South Korean airspace.

An unspecified number of South Korean fighter jets, including F-16s, scrambled to the area and fired 10 flares and 80 rounds from machine guns as warning shots.

Seoul defense officials said the Russian reconnaissance aircraft left the area three minutes later but later returned and violated South Korean airspace again for four minutes. The officials said the South Korean fighter jets then fired another 10 flares and 280 rounds from machine guns as warning shots.

Seoul claimed that Tuesday’s incident marked the first time a foreign military plane had violated its airspace since the end of the Korean War. Officials added that the Chinese planes did not intrude upon South Korean airspace.

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