A solid alliance is key

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A solid alliance is key

Six Russian military aircraft flew over the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (Kadiz) on Tuesday without any prior notification. After 10 of our fighter jets took off in response, they avoided our airspace. Russia has violated the Kadiz 20 times this year. The Russian planes included not only an airplane equipped with the Airborne Warning and Control System (Awacs), but also bombers and fighter jets, which suggests the possibility of a routine, not accidental, maneuver. We cannot but regard the incursion as an intentional provocation given the fact it took place shortly before a scheduled military meeting between Seoul and Moscow to discuss Russia’s frequent violations of the Kadiz.

Even though air defense identification zones (ADIZ) are not globally accepted, they should be respected because of the need to prevent unwanted military clashes. Russia’s flights over the Kadiz constitute a brazen denial of our airspace.

Russia’s repeated infiltrations result from a need to show off its military power amid a slackened alliance between South Korea and the United States. Deepening tensions between Russia and the United States on the international stage also play a part, particularly after U.S. President Donald Trump broke the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. Moscow and Beijing must have been irked by the possibility of the United States deploying short-range missiles with its allies in Asia as a result of the nullification of the INF treaty. Russia’s violation of the Kadiz is likely aimed at restraining the United States from deploying intermediate-range missiles in the region.

Russia’s provocative flights can also be an attempt to shake security cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan by fueling ongoing conflict between Seoul and Tokyo. That can explain why Russian military aircraft fly over the Dokdo islets — a sensitive airspace where the Kadiz and Japan’s ADIZ overlap. Russia could reignite a territorial dispute between Seoul and Tokyo over the islets in the East Sea.

Russia has made nonstop efforts to obtain an ice-free port in the Pacific since the 19th century. The country has never abandoned that dream.

The key to restraining Russia’s ambitions lies with consolidating our alliance with Uncle Sam and expanding it to a tripartite security cooperation including Japan. And yet, a group of anti-U.S. and pro-North Korea college students broke into the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Seoul. Such a mishap should not be repeated.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 24, Page 34
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