Two Russian Tu-95MS strategic bombers flew for about 9 hours in neutral waters near the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday, Russia's military said. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA
Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Russian bombers flew near the Korean Peninsula and a small Chinese warship entered waters between South Korea and Japan as the United States conducted joint exercises with Korea's military this week.
The Japan Self-Defense Forces' Joint Staff Office said the Japanese navy spotted a Chinese Type 056 corvette of the Jiangdao Class traveling in a northeasterly direction in waters about 80 miles from the Japanese island of Tsushima at about 1 p.m. Saturday, South Korean news service News 1 reported Wednesday.
Japan said it scrambled a P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft to collect data and deployed a naval convoy to perform a surveillance mission, according to the report.
Russia's military said that two Russian Tu-95MS strategic bombers flew for about 9 hours in neutral waters of the Sea of Japan, known as the East Sea in Korea, on Wednesday, according to News 1. A Sukhoi Su-35 fighter squadron provided escort for the bombers, Moscow said.
Russia's defense ministry said that the flight of the bombers was "pre-arranged," but the deployment is raising speculation in South Korea whether they were timed to coincide with U.S.-South Korea joint exercises.
Annual Command Post Training exercises began this week and end Aug. 26. The training was scaled down and involved only core personnel because of COVID-19 concerns, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff has said.
China rarely mentions the drills, but earlier this month at the ASEAN Regional Forum China's foreign minister criticized the joint training.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the virtual gathering on Aug. 5 that the exercises are "not constructive" for dialogue with North Korea.
China and Russia held joint exercises in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of China in August. More than 10,000 troops took part in Sibu/Interaction 2021, the Russian military said.