Nuclear-capable Russian bombers as well as fighter escorts and intel-gathering aircraft were spotted flying around the Korean Peninsula seemingly in response to the join U.S.-South Korean drills that have happened this week. Russia had previously stated that it’s against a unilateral U.S. military action in the area.
This, just weeks after a major escalation between North Korea and the United States which many have stated could be the beginning stages of a nuclear war as Kim Jong un, the North Korea dictator, has threatened action prompted President Donald Trump to declare the U.S. will retaliate in a very harsh way.
The flight, which also included planes with advanced intelligence gathering capabilities, was over international waters and was announced by the Russian Defence Ministry on the same day as Moscow complained about the U.S.-South Korean war games.
“The U.S. and South Korea holding yet more large-scale military and naval exercises does not help reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, told a news briefing in Moscow.
“We urge all sides to exercise maximum caution. Given the arms build-up in the region, any rash move or even an unintended incident could spark a military conflict.”
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not comment specifically on the Russian mission when asked, reiterating China hoped all sides could quickly return to talks and appropriately and peacefully resolve the situation.
The United States and South Korea began the long-planned joint military exercises on Monday, heightening tensions with Pyongyang which called the drills a “reckless” step towards nuclear conflict.
Some military experts regard the hulking Russian turboprop bombers which made the flight near the Korean peninsula as a relic of the Cold War. But Russia has upgraded the aircraft since the Soviet fall and, since 2007, has used the planes to back its diplomacy with shows of force and to probe other countries’ airspaces.
Moscow said the bombers had been accompanied by Sukhoi-35S fighter jets and A-50 early warning and control aircraft.