A Russian military aircraft entered airspace near a group of islets claimed by both South Korea and Japan on Tuesday, during a long-range joint air patrol by Russian and Chinese aircraft, according to South Korea and Japan, which both scrambled fighter jets in response.
On Wednesday, the Russia’s embassy in Seoul denied that Moscow had formally apologised over an alleged airspace violation the previous day, after South Korea said that Russia had expressed “deep regret” while blaming an equipment malfunction.
South Korean warplanes fired flares and hundreds of warning shots near the Russian aircraft, and the incident triggered a round of diplomatic protests by countries in the region.
An unidentified Russian military attaché in Seoul told South Korean officials that the military plane appeared to have “entered an unplanned area due to a device malfunction”, said Yoon Do-han, a press secretary at South Korea’s presidential office.
“Russia has conveyed its deep regret over the incident and said its defense ministry would immediately launch an investigation and take all necessary steps,” Yoon said.