Japan’s Defense Ministry says a Russian helicopter entered Japanese airspace near Hokkaido this morning

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Japan scrambled a fighter jet on Wednesday in response to what appeared to be a Russian helicopter entering its airspace, the country’s military said, amid heightened tensions over the crisis in Ukraine.

The helicopter crossed into Japanese airspace over waters off of the northern island of Hokkaido at 10:43 a.m., the defense ministry said in a brief statement. Japan issued warnings and sent an Air Self-Defense Force fighter to respond to the incursion, the ministry said.

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Japan’s military will “continue to take all possible measures 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to protect Japan’s territory and the peaceful lives of its people,” the joint staff of the defense ministry said in a tweet.

Tokyo issued a protest with the Russian government through a diplomatic channel, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Matsuno called the incident “extremely regrettable” and said Japan would continue to monitor the situation.




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