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Russian, Chinese bombers carry out first joint patrol in Asia-Pacific region — top brass

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the joint flights were not directed against third countries
Chinese H-6K bomber Gao Fei/Xinhua via AP
Chinese H-6K bomber
© Gao Fei/Xinhua via AP

MOSCOW, July 23. /TASS/. Russia’s Aerospace Force and China’s Air Force carried out joint air patrol for the first time in the Asia-Pacific region, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday.

The joint air patrol involved Tu-95MS bombers on Russia’s part and H-6K aircraft on China’s part, the ministry stated.

"On July 23, 2019, the Aerospace Force of Russia and the Air Force of the People’s Liberation Army of China conducted the first joint air patrol by long-range aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region," the ministry announced.

The group of strategic bombers comprising two Russian Tu-95MS aircraft and two Chinese H-6K planes (a version of the Soviet Tu-16 bomber) "was air patrolling the planned route over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea," the statement reads.

Commenting on the incident, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed the joint flights were not directed against third countries. "The flights were performed as part of implementing the provisions of the military cooperation plan for 2019 and were not directed against third countries," the ministry explained.

The Defense Ministry stressed that other countries' borders had not been violated. "According to flight data, there were no violations of other countries’ airspace," it said.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier reported that three Russian military aircraft and two Chinese Air Force planes entered South Korea's air defense identification zone on Tuesday morning. South Korean fighter jets scrambled to the area to fire warning shots at the Russian plane, which allegedly violated South Korea’s airspace.

The Russian Defense Ministry has dismissed the reports on warning shots fired by South Korea’s F-16 fighter jets at Russia’s Tu-95MS strategic bombers because otherwise "this would have triggered an immediate response."

The joint air patrol is intended to strengthen Russian-Chinese relations and raise the level of interaction between the armed forces of both countries, in particular, to expand their capabilities for joint operations. Another goal is "strengthening global strategic stability," Russia’s Defense Ministry added.