China, Russia launch joint air patrol, alarms South Korea

Tuesday was the sixth combined air patrol between China and Russia since 2019 over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea, which prompted neighboring South Korea to activate its fighter jets.

The patrol was a part of the two forces’ yearly cooperation plan, according to China’s defense ministry. According to the military, South Korea launched fighter jets after four Russian and four Chinese military aircraft flew into its air defense zone in the country’s south and east of the Korean peninsula.

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South Korea also sent out fighter jets in response to the entry of Chinese H-6K bombers, Russian TU-95 bombers, and Chinese SU-35 fighter jets into its Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ) during China’s final combined aerial patrol with Russia in November.

When two Russian drones and two Chinese bombers flew into the Sea of Japan, Japan also scrambled its jets.

Countries that require additional identification procedures for foreign aircraft are said to have air defense zones. There are no international regulations controlling air defense zones, unlike the air above a nation’s territory and territorial waters.

The two countries’ long-growing bilateral ties, which were based in part on a shared perception of threat from the United States and other military alliances, resulted in the coordinated aircraft patrols, which started before Russia dispatched troops to Ukraine and Beijing and Moscow declared their “no-limits” partnership.

While Tokyo was hosting a Quad summit with the leaders of the United States, India, and Australia in May 2022, Chinese and Russian jets came dangerously close to entering Japanese airspace, worrying Japan despite China’s claims that the flights weren’t intended for other countries.

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