Moscow, Seoul kick off talks on military hotline

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Moscow, Seoul kick off talks on military hotline

Korea and Russia on Wednesday kicked off two-day military talks to discuss installing a hotline for exchanging air traffic information, a day after six Russian military planes invaded Korea’s Air Defense Identification Zone, or Kadiz.

The talks, which were held at the office of Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in central Seoul, were prearranged weeks ahead of time to follow up on discussions in November over the drafting of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on installing a direct bilateral military hotline.

The trespassing of Russian military aircraft into Kadiz on Tuesday - the 20th such occurrence this year - throws an added variable into the talks, which were originally planned to review the logistics of the MOU signing.

Between 9:23 a.m. and 2:44 p.m., a Russian A-50 early-warning aircraft, three SU-27 fighter jets and two TU-95 bombers entered Kadiz four times without prior notice. They had all left by around 3:13 p.m., the JCS said.

While the JCS added the Russian planes did not invade Korea’s territorial airspace, Korean officials on Wednesday were expected to express strong regret at the Kadiz violation to their Russian counterparts.

An air defense identification zone (ADIZ) corresponds to the airspace that extends beyond a country’s national territory where a country can interrogate unidentified aircraft and possibly intercept them in the event it detects a threat to its sovereign airspace.

While many countries operate such zones to enhance their airborne security, there are no international agreements that govern ADIZs, and often countries’ ADIZs overlap - like those of China, Korea and Japan.

Russia does not operate a formal ADIZ, and therefore does not recognize other countries’ claims over their own.

In July, three Russian military planes and two Chinese jets entered Kadiz, with one of the Russian jets even violating Korea’s sovereign airspace over the Dokdo islets. The jets were running a joint exercise that military analysts said would only increase as China and Russia flex their muscles abroad with more frequency as a challenge to U.S. influence over the region.

During Tuesday’s flyby, the Russian planes avoided Korean airspace between Ulleung Island and Dokdo, but Korea responded by deploying 10 F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets, which relayed several warning signals to the Russian planes until they left Kadiz. Korea’s Defense Ministry subsequently called Moscow to issue a complaint over the incident and urged that it does not recur.

According to a Korean military official, the Russian planes’ blatant flight over the East Sea, and the waters off Korea’s western and southern coast, showed Moscow was flaunting over Korea’s Kadiz.

The two countries’ Defense Ministries agreed in August to install a direct hotline between their air forces to deter such potential collisions in Kadiz, according to another military official who expressed uncertainty about how Tuesday’s events could affect the talks.

Korea’s presidential office on Wednesday showed restraint over the issue, with a key official telling reporters that the Defense Ministry’s briefing and the Foreign Ministry’s summoning of the Russian Embassy’s military attache over the incident showed the government had put out a timely response. “We will not further make a fuss over the matter,” the official added.

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