Keep an eye on RussiaA Russian reconnaissance aircraft violated the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone on Wednesday while approaching a U.S. aircraft carrier during joint drills by South Korean and U.S. troops in the eastern waters off the Korean Peninsula.
The Russian aircraft was intercepted and escorted out of the area immediately by U.S. and South Korean aircraft. According to a military source, the Russian aircraft flew above the U.S.S. Nimitz aircraft carrier for about 20 minutes.
The KADIZ was designated by the commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Force Command in 1951 to prevent air clashes between countries surrounding the Korean Peninsula. Although the zone is not South Korean airspace, the Korean Defense Ministry supervises the area. A foreign aircraft has to receive approval from the South Korean government 24 hours before it enters the zone. That the Russian aircraft entered the zone without permission and attempted to spy on the Nimitz is not a matter we can just forget. We think the Russian government intended to show off its military power in East Asia and see how South Korean and U.S. troops would react.
The incident is very closely related to Russia’s recent strengthening of its military power. Russian President Vladimir Putin significantly improved the country’s military power with oil money and has been confronting the United States over many issues. There is even a term, “New Cold War.” This tension has influenced East Asian countries where Russia traditionally wanted to expand its power. In October of last year, Russia conducted a massive military exercise from the waters near Vladivostok to the Pacific Ocean. Last month, the Japanese government issued a strong protest to Moscow after two Russian bombers crossed into Japanese airspace.
The government says it was not a violation of international law because the Russian aircraft did not violate South Korean airspace. This reaction shows the government’s lack of attention toward the Russian buildup of military strength. The South Korean government should express regret over the issue and ask the Russian government not to repeat such an attempt. It seems like the South Korea government thinks our country does not need to be involved in disputes between Russia and the United States, but this is naive. South Korea and the United States are allies. While cooperating with Russia, we should not forget to pay close attention to its military movements and aims.