Russian and Chinese strategic bombers carried out a joint mission over the Western Pacific on December 22, 2020. Two Russian Tu-95MS and four Chinese H-6K strategic bombers and an escort of Russian Su-35 fighters were involved in the exercise.
For ten hours, the aircraft flew above the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. The mission was carried out “in strict compliance with the provisions of international law,” the Russian military stated. It was planned “with the aim of deepening and developing the Russian-Chinese relations of comprehensive partnership, further increasing the level of interaction between the armed forces of the two countries, improving their capabilities to conduct joint actions, as well as strengthening global strategic stability.”
As they flew over the disputed Takeshima-Dokdo Islands, the flight group was intercepted several times by F-15 fighter jets of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force. The South Korean General Staff said the bombers also entered its air defense identification zone, but none violated South Korea’s territorial airspace.
Takeshima-Dokdo islets, also known as the Liancourt rocks, are claimed by both Japan and South Korea as part of their respective national territory. South Korea has de facto control over the islets where it has built several infrastructures and keeps a small police force. North Korea also has a claim on the islets.
Later the same day, a Russian Su-30 fighter was scrambled to intercept a Japanese Lockheed P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft over the international waters of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan.