South Korea says fired warning shots at Russian military jet

South Korean Air Force deployed several F-15k and F-16k jets. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

South Korea says fired warning shots at Russian military jet

  • South Korea deployed F-15k and F-16k jets to intercept the Russian plane
  • Russia denied that their airplane violated South Korean airspace

SEOUL: South Korean fighter jets fired nearly 400 warning shots at a Russian military aircraft on Tuesday after it violated the country’s airspace, with Seoul warning of a far stronger reaction if a breach reoccurs.

The Russian A-50 early warning and control aircraft breached South Korean airspace twice off its east coast, the defense ministry official said, forcing the air force to scramble fighters.

Moscow denied any of its military aircraft had violated South Korean airspace, saying its planes had carried out planned drills over international waters.

But Seoul said a warplane entered South Korean airspace near the disputed Dokdo islets — which are also claimed by Japan — the first such violation since Korean War hostilities ended in 1953.

National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong warned of serious consequences if such a violation happened again in a message to the secretary of the Security Council of Russia, South Korea’s presidential Blue House spokeswoman said.

“We are assessing this incident in a very grave manner and will take a much tougher measure if it happens again,” Chung said, according to the Blue House spokeswoman.

“I request Russia’s Security Council to assess the situation and take necessary measures.”

Moscow insisted nothing untoward had happened.

“Two Tu-95 strategic bombers of Russia’s aerospace forces carried out a planned flight in the airspace above the neutral waters of the Sea of Japan,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

South Korean officials said a Russian plane first entered South Korean airspace just after 9:00 am (0000 GMT) and lasted three minutes.

It returned half an hour later, staying in South Korean airspace for four minutes, the military said.

South Korea responded by sending F-15K and KF-16 fighters, which first issued warnings and fired flares. They fired 80 warning shots at the plane during the first breach, and 280 rounds during the second, a military official told AFP.

At one point, the South Korean and Russian warplanes were just one kilometer apart, the official added.

The Russian plane “didn’t appear to have hostile intention” during the manuevers, the military official said, as it flew “at constant speed and direction.”

He added that more investigation is required to determine the motives for the breaches.

No Rohingya turn up for repatriation to Myanmar

Updated 25 min 36 sec ago

No Rohingya turn up for repatriation to Myanmar

  • Thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar in 2017
  • The refugees asked Myanmar authorities to guarantee their safety and citizenship

TEKNAF, Bangladesh: A fresh push to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar appeared Thursday to fall flat, with no one turning up to hop on five buses and 10 trucks laid on by Bangladesh.
“We have been waiting since 9:00 am (0300 GMT) to take any willing refugees for repatriation,” Khaled Hossain, a Bangladesh official in charge of the Teknaf refugee camp, told AFP after over an hour of waiting.
“Nobody has yet turned up.”
Some 740,000 of the long-oppressed mostly Muslim Rohingya minority fled a military offensive in 2017 in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that the United Nations has likened to ethnic cleansing, joining 200,000 already in Bangladesh.
Demanding that Buddhist-majority Myanmar guarantee their safety and citizenship, only a handful have returned from the vast camps in southeast Bangladesh where they have now lived for two years.
The latest repatriation attempt — a previous push failed in November — follows a visit last month to the camps by high-ranking officials from Myanmar led by Permanent Foreign Secretary Myint Thu.
Bangladesh’s foreign ministry forwarded a list of more than 22,000 refugees to Myanmar for verification and Naypyidaw cleared 3,450 individuals for “return.”
But on Wednesday, several Rohingya refugees whose names were listed told AFP that said they did not want to return unless their safety was ensured and they were granted citizenship.
“It is not safe to return to Myanmar,” one of them, Nur Islam, told AFP.
Officials from the UN and Bangladesh’s refugee commission have also been interviewing Rohingya families in the settlements to find out if they wanted to return.
“We have yet to get consent from any refugee family,” a UN official said Wednesday.
Rohingya community leader Jafar Alam told AFP the refugees had been gripped by fear since authorities announced the fresh repatriation process.
They also feared being sent to camps for internally displaced people (IDP) if they went back to Myanmar.
Bangladesh refugee commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam said they were “fully prepared” for the repatriation with security being tightened across the refugee settlements to prevent any violence or protests.
Officials said they would wait for a few more hours before deciding whether to postpone the repatriation move.
In New York, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday that repatriations had to be “voluntary.”
“Any return should be voluntary and sustainable and in safety and in dignity to their place of origin and choice,” Dujarric told reporters.
The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on the issue on Wednesday.
Sunday will mark the second anniversary of the crackdown that sparked the mass exodus to the Bangladesh camps.
The Rohingya are not recognized as an official minority by the Myanmar government, which considers them Bengali interlopers despite many families having lived in Rakhine for generations.