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Japan protests suspected air incursion by Russia

TOKYO (AFP) – Tokyo lodged a diplomatic protest with Moscow after scrambling fighter jets yesterday as a suspected Russian helicopter entered Japan’s northern airspace at a time of heightened tensions over Ukraine.

Japan, which has volatile ties and border disputes with key neighbours routinely sends jets to defend its territorial airspace.

The country scrambled military jets 49 times in January, 142 times in December and 127 times in November, the Defence Ministry said.

Yesterday morning, one suspected Russian helicopter flew into Japanese territorial airspace off northern Hokkaido island, Japan’s Defence Ministry said in a brief statement.

The Japan Air Self Defence Force scrambled an unspecified number of jets and issued warnings to the helicopter to leave.

“We lodged a protest with the Russian government today through a diplomatic channel and called for a halt to such acts,” government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno told a routine briefing.


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