Russia has defended its first joint air patrol with China in Asia Pacific region [Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters]

Russia carried out what it said was its first long-range joint air patrol in the Asia Pacific region with China on Tuesday, a mission that triggered hundreds of warning shots, according to South Korean officials, and a strong protest from Japan.

The flight by two Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers and two Chinese H-6 bombers backed up by a Russian A-50 early warning plane and its Chinese counterpart, a KJ-2000, marks a notable ramping-up of military cooperation between Beijing and Moscow.

That is something likely to worry politicians from Washington to Tokyo and could complicate relations and raise tension in a region that has for years been overshadowed

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