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Russia denies violating Japanese airspace
February 8, 2013, 9:27 am


Japan and Russia both lay claim to a set of islands. [Getty Images]

Russia has denied entering Japanese airspace and insisted that the two fighter jets acted within international rules.

“All sorties are strictly controlled by the command and have been conducted under air traffic control in a strict accordance with the international rules, without violation of the other countries’ borders,” the Interfax news agency quoted Alexander Gordeev, an eastern military district spokesman as saying.

Japan lodged a protest on Thursday after two SU-27 fighters were allegedly detected off the northern island of Hokkaido for just over a minute.

Gordeev said that Russian air forces have conducted flights over the Sea of Japan as part of large-scale exercises that started on Tuesday.

“Around 06:00 GMT today, military fighters belonging to Russian Federation breached our nation’s airspace above territorial waters off Rishiri island in Hokkaido,” the Japanese foreign ministry said.

It was the first time since 2008 that Tokyo has accused Russia of violating its airspace.

The alleged breach by the fighters immediately followed remarks made by  Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister on the day that Japan will promote talks with Russia to resolve bilateral territorial disputes.

The incident took place near a set of four disputed islands to which both countries have laid claim since the end of World War II, called the Northern Territories in Japanese and considered part of the Kuril Islands by Russia.

Russian troops, planes and ships have been holding large-scale military drills on the Kurils since Wednesday.

“Flights by the Pacific Fleet’s naval aircraft take place regularly in this area and strictly adhere to international rules regarding the use of airspace, without violating the borders of other countries,” Roman Martov, a Captain 1st Rank in the Russian Navy told news agency, RIA Novosti.

Source: Agencies