Moscow, Dec.9 (ANI): Russian airplanes flew in the region of a joint US-Japanese military drill, a naval spokesman said on Wednesday, heightening tensions in a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Moscow.
"The area is our zone of responsibility. The airplanes carried out a planned flight in an area of the Russian Pacific Fleet's regular activity. Our pilots did not violate any rules of international air space," said Roman Markov, a spokesman for the fleet, said.
Japan's Sankei newspaper had earlier reported that Russian patrol planes had interrupted joint US and Japanese military drills this week when they entered airspace above where the exercises were being conducted in the Sea of Japan.
Markov said that two Ilyushin-38 airplanes-a maritime patrol and an anti-submarine aircraft-had made the flights.
Ties between Japan and Russia have been strained since Russian President Dmitry Medvedev infuriated Tokyo last month by becoming the first Russian leader to visit one of a string of islands claimed by both countries.
His trip to the islands-called the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan-caused Tokyo to recall its ambassador for consultations.
The Soviet Union occupied the four islands at the end of the war and the territorial row has weighed on ties between Tokyo and Moscow ever since, precluding a formal peace treaty. (ANI)