South Korea and Russia appear to be having a spat that has set off an international argument over airspace ownership.
After several Russian planes wandered into South Korean airspace, South Korea reportedly fired off several hundred rounds as a warning shot to the Russian aircraft.
As often happens in these types of conflicts, multiple stories are coming in from many different sources that are completely contradictory.
According to South Korea, three Russian planes entered their air space over a series of islets between South Korea and Japan. During the first incident, South Korea stated its fighter planes set off flares and 80 rounds as a warning shot.
Several hours later, the Russians entered the airspace again, resulting in more flares and an additional 280 rounds being fired off as warning shots.
The Russians deny having ever entered South Korean airspace, insisting they were in international airspace the entire time. South Korea stated this is the first time in more than six decades its airspace has been violated.
As you may recall, in 1983, the situation was reversed and the Russians shot down a South Korean passenger liner, killing 269 innocents in the process.
The Japanese also say they had a stake in this altercation. According to Japan, those islets belong to Japan, so Russia actually violated their air space.
Additionally, since South Korea was enforcing the area, it too was in violation of Japanese airspace. While this is far from a light-hearted situation, it is not likely to escalate any further.
To make matters even more complicated, two Chinese bombers were reported to have also entered the airspace. After South Korea issued its statement, the Chinese took exception to the term “violation” being used.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying stated, “I feel that given China and South Korea are friendly neighbors, you should be careful when using it, because we are not clear about the situation.”
At this point, though, this seems to be nothing more than posturing from all sides, and the situation is not nearly as dire as the one between the United States and Iran, which seems like it could turn into a legitimate military conflict at any time.