South Korean Forces Fire Warning Shots at Joint Russia-China Air Patrol

Russia denies claims it violated Korean air space

What is being described as the first ever joint Russia-China long-range joint air patrol ended up in a substantial confrontation, with South Korean jets scrambling, and firing 360 rounds of “warning shots” when they say the Russian planes violated South Korean airspace.

South Korea’s planes fired at an A-50, a command plane based on the more common Il-76 transport. South Korea’s jets were F-15F and KF-16 fighter jets. Russia denies violating South Korean airspace.

This is a difference of opinion on who actually owns some contested islands. Japan backed South Korea’s claims, while Russia and China don’t support the South Korean ownership of the islands, and therefore not the airspace either.

The long-range patrol was chiefly made up of long-range strategic bombers, and neither Russia nor China included an escort to defend them from a potential attack by fighters. That might change in future patrols.

South Korea has since claimed that Russia has expressed “deep regret” over the incident, though Russia has yet to publicly affirm that this is the case.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.