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South Korea: Russia says airspace intrusion was not intentional

By Yonhap News Agency
South Korea: Russia says airspace intrusion was not intentional
South Korean F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets were scrambled Tuesday in response to Russian military aircraft entering South Korean airspace. Photo by Yonhap News Service/UPI

SEOUL, July 24 (UPI) -- Russia has told South Korea that the latest airspace intrusion by one of its warplanes was not intentional and was probably caused by a technical glitch, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.

Expressing "deep regret" over the latest incident, Russia said that a technical problem probably caused the plane to intrude into South Korea's airspace.

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"Russia said its defense ministry will immediately launch a probe and take necessary steps," said Yoon Do-han, senior Cheong Wa Dae secretary for public communication, during a press briefing.

The message was delivered to a senior South Korean defense ministry official by a Russian military attache on Tuesday.

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Earlier in the day, a Russian warplane had intruded into South Korea's airspace above the easternmost islets of Dokdo in the East Sea twice, right after Russian and Chinese military aircraft entered Korea's air defense identification zone without prior notice.

The Russian plane incursion prompted South Korea's Air Force to fire warning shots. Cheong Wa Dae lodged a formal complaint with Russia afterwards over the incident.

Russia said the flight was part of joint air drills with China.

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"Moscow said if the aircraft flew according to an initially planned route, this incident would not have occurred," Yoon said.

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Russia asked South Korea to provide data related to the intrusion, including the location and time, for its investigation.

To prevent similar incidents from occurring, Moscow wants to develop an emergency cooperation scheme between the two nations' air forces, Yoon added.

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"Russia said it respects international and South Korea's domestic laws and that the trespassing was not intended. It hopes bilateral ties with South Korea will develop, unhampered by this case," he added.

Meanwhile, Cheong Wa Dae rebutted Japan's territorial claim over Dokdo in connection to the Russian plane's violation.

Japan, which lays claims to the islets, dispatched a warplane Tuesday, claiming that the Russian aircraft had violated Japan's territory. Tokyo also filed a protest with Seoul over the incident.

"It seems that Japan only has to unveil its stance over its air defense identification zone," a presidential official said.

"The issue of our airspace is what we are dealing with," the official added.

Seoul's defense ministry flatly dismissed Japan's claim, vowing a stern response to any outside intrusion into the territory.

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