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Vicious Circle. U.S. and South Korea hold massive air force exercise

Photo by John Arano on Unsplash

A large-scale exercise of South Korean and U.S. military aviation begins on Monday. This was reported by the Ryonhap news agency with reference to the South Korean Air Force.

“Through this exercise, we will be able to reaffirm the strength of the South Korea-US alliance and take our joint operational capabilities to a new level,” the agency quoted Colonel Lee Bom Ki, chief of staff of the Republic of Korea Air Force Operations Command, as saying.

The maneuvers will start at the Gwangju Air Force Base and will last for 12 days. As Ryonhap notes, Seoul will deploy about 60 aircraft, including F-35A, F-15K, KF-16 fighters and a KC-330 tanker aircraft, for the exercise. Washington, for its part, will also train more than 40 aircraft, including F-16s, F-35Bs, A-10s and FA-18 fighter-bombers.

A total of about 110 aircraft will be used in the exercise.

Seoul said the two countries’ air forces will train train together fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, among other things. The military will also practice formation flying, air defense operations and air support.

It is worth noting that this is not the first exercise of the South Korean and U.S. air forces in April. On Friday, the South Korean Defense Ministry informed that the two countries were training involving an American B-52H strategic bomber. The exercise came a day after North Korea first launched a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-18.&nbsp

Pyongyang expects the new ICBM to become the main tool of the country’s strategic armed forces and play an important role in its deterrence system.

According to Konstantin Asmolov of the Center for Korean Studies at the Institute of China and Modern Asia, the April exercise by the United States and South Korea can also be seen as a response to North Korea’s missile tests.

“The DPRK tested a new ballistic missile. Therefore, these exercises can be considered a response. But it is worth recalling that the North Korean tests, in turn, were seen as a response to previous maneuvers by Seoul and Washington, which took place in March. This is a kind of vicious circle,” Asmolov told .

Recall that on March 12, Seoul and Washington held training Freedom Shield (“Freedom Shield”). As the media noted, the training was the largest in five years.

Simultaneously with Freedom Shield a series of combined field exercises called Warrior Shield FTX took place on the Korean Peninsula. The purpose of these maneuvers was said to be to further strengthen cooperation between the two nations’ armed forces through air, land, sea, space, special operations and cyberspace operations.

Earlier, in late January, Seoul and Washington agreed to expand the program of joint military exercises. In addition, the Pentagon did not rule out the use of nuclear weapons to protect an Asian partner.

Both sides argue that such cooperation is aimed at countering the threat posed by the DPRK. Seoul and Washington are particularly concerned about Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program.

Meanwhile, North Korea has a different position, considering the military activity of the United States and South Korea an escalation of the situation in the region.

They also drew attention to the development of weapons such as Hwasong-18 in response to “the daily worsening security situation on the Korean Peninsula and future military threats. The Korea Central Telegraph Agency (KCTAK) reported that the weapons are being developed in response to “the deteriorating security situation on the Korean Peninsula every day and future military threats.

The agency added that the DPRK leadership will continue to develop weapons so that “adversaries will feel a more obvious security crisis.” Pyongyang intends to instill fear in its opponents with its countermeasures until its detractors give up their aggressive policies;

Beijing also views Washington’s military activity in the region with concern.

As noted Chinese special envoy on the Korean Peninsula Liu Xiaoming, the United States is using the situation on the Korean Peninsula to obstruct the PRC and form an alliance against it.

Liu Xiaoming also pointed out that critics of North Korea’s nuclear missile program do not take into account the reasons for Pyongyang’s development of such weapons. In his view, the DPRK is resorting to such measures because of the lack of security structure on the Korean Peninsula.

Russia also called on the U.S. to listen to North Korea’s security concerns.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in March that Washington should respond constructively to Pyongyang’s calls to stop exercises in the region.

“We call on the U.S. to respond constructively to the signals sent from Pyongyang. We believe that concrete steps to reduce military activity in the region, including large-scale military exercises, must be taken immediately to prevent extremely dangerous developments,” she said.

Analysts, in turn, recall that a few years ago there was a definite decrease in confrontation on the Korean Peninsula. The diplomatic efforts of Donald Trump’s administration contributed to this process. However, after Joe Biden came to power in the United States and Yoon Seok Yeol came to power in South Korea, these trends came to naught.

“In South Korea there has been a radical change of course with regard to the DPRK. As you know, President Moon Jae-in, Yoon Seok-yeol’s predecessor, pursued a course of détente and compromise with the DPRK. Yoon Suk-Yeol decided to talk to North Korea from a position of strength and strengthen the military-political alliance with the U.S. for this purpose, which worries the North Koreans very much. They are not afraid of the South Koreans as a military force, but they understand that U.S. troops are located there, so any conflict in the region is fraught with the possibility of a clash with Washington,” Alexander Zhebin, leading researcher at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia of the Russian Academy of Sciences, explained in a conversation with Alexander Zhebin.

Under these conditions, the expert said, the DPRK is taking “measures to counter the growing military threat near its borders. He added that Pyongyang “has repeatedly demonstrated its readiness to compromise and take into account the concerns of Americans and South Koreans.

“In 2018, Pyongyang promised not to make long-range missile launches, destroyed its nuclear test site and took a number of other measures that should have signaled its goodwill. But the North Koreans got nothing in return – no concessions, much less the lifting of sanctions, which are aimed at strangling the DPRK economy. Seeing that their steps went unanswered, the North Koreans once again took the path they thought they could get the Americans to consider their concerns,” says Rzhebin.

In his view, U.S. and South Korean military activity has increased recently, which undermines security in the region.

“The U.S. talks all the time about the North Korean threat. But what are U.S. warships doing in the region? It’s been 70 years since the Korean War ended, but the United States troops are still there. It’s not the DPRK s landing off America’s coast. On the contrary, it’s U.S. Marines landing literally a hundred kilometers away from North Korean territory,” the analyst said.

Alexander Zhebin believes that the threat from North Korea is in many respects just a pretext for the US to build up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The military activity of the U.S. and its allies in the Far East is implemented independently of the behavior of the DPRK. The threat allegedly emanating from that country is simply a convenient excuse to justify an American military build-up near the borders of Russia and China. That’s why the White House has never been in a hurry to settle the conflict on the Korean peninsula. On the contrary, the U.S., South Korea and Japan are imposing new sanctions against the DPRK and increasing military preparations near its borders,” the expert concluded.

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