Russia disbanded the peace negotiations about the status of the islands after Japan implemented sanctions on Moscow as a result of Ukraine. Now, Russia is erecting a new missile base on an Island near Japan for round-the-clock watch.
Russia has exacerbated geopolitical instability with Japan by deploying additional missile defense systems in the contested Kuril Islands, notably a mobile coastal defense missile system on the chain’s northernmost island.
“Coastal servicemen of the Pacific Fleet will keep a round-the-clock watch to control the adjacent water area and strait zones,” the Russian defense ministry announced on Tuesday.
The island of Paramushir, that rests between Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and Japan, will host the new coastal defense missiles, with the Kremlin also stating that it plans a permanent deployment of troops to maintain the systems functioning properly for year-round service, which include military housing and perhaps even recreation, analogous to a full base.
Japan and its Western allies have long condemned Russia for militarizing the islands and establishing a military presence there “under the radar” despite Tokyo’s own claim to sovereignty over the islands, which it refers to as the Northern Territories or Southern Chishima.
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All of this is taking place in the midst of protracted, on-again, off-again peace talks about the status of the islands. The central Kuril Islands’ Matua had already received Bastion systems from Russia, but this latest announcement of an expansion of coastal systems to additional islands on an ongoing basis represents a major escalation.
Russia disbanded the peace negotiations about the status of the islands after Japan implemented sanctions on Moscow as a result of Ukraine. As reported by Reuters, “Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a Tuesday news conference that the government will closely monitor the Russian military activity, adding it has been intensifying in the far east regions in tandem with Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.”
In a report released in September, the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies suggested stronger American intervention in the area as a result of Russia’s escalating militarization of its islands.
“Russia’s steps to boost its presence suggest that the islands will continue to play a pernicious role in the future of Russo-Japanese relations and that Japan and the United States should deepen consultations regarding Russia’s activities in the region,” CSIS said.