South Korea scrambles fighter jets as Chinese and Russian warplanes enter its air defence zone

South Korea said it used its fighter jets as a tactical measure after two Chinese and six Russian warplanes entered its air defence area on Wednesday.

South Korea’s joint chief of staff (JCS) said the Chinese H-6 bombers repeatedly entered and left the Korea Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ) off South Korea’s southern and northeast coasts starting around 5.50am, reported Reuters.

At 6.44am, the jets re-entered the zone from an area northeast of South Korea’s southern port city of Pohang and exited the zone at 7.07am, reported Yonhap.

At 12.18pm, six Russian aircraft, including four TU-95 bombers and two SU-35 fighters along with the two Chinese H-6 bombers, flew into the KADIZ from an area 200km northeast of the South’s Ulleung Island and exited the zone at 12.36pm.

The country’s JCS, however, said the aircraft did not violate South Korea’s airspace.

South Korea’s F-15K jets were deployed as a tactical step against a potential accidental situation, the JCS added.

The incident comes just weeks after South Korea and the US continued their military exercises, enraging China.

Earlier this month, US president Joe Biden warned his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali to not engage in long-range nuclear testing, failing which the US will step up its military presence in the Korean region to defend itself and its allies, South Korea and Japan.

The warning came amid heightened tensions in East Asia, with North Korea carrying out a record 30 missile tests this month and over 60 this year.

The US has blamed both China and Russia for enabling North Korea to carry out the missile tests.

On 3 November, US and China’s envoys in the UN Security Council clashed over North Korea’s missile tests.

While US envoy to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield blamed China and Russia, saying they had “made a mockery of this council, China’s Zhang Jun denied that North Korea’s actions were directly linked to the re-launch of large-scale US-South Korean military exercises.

Anna Evstigneeva, the Russian deputy UN ambassador, blamed the significantly worsening situation in the Korean peninsula on “the desire of Washington to force Pyongyang to unilaterally disarm by using sanctions and exerting pressure and force”.

Additional reporting by agencies