TOKYO ($1=137.12 Japanese Yens) — Paramushil Island begins to be guarded by a Russian Bastion coastal missile system. This was announced by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. The island is located in an extremely key and, from a military point of view, tactical location. It is part of the Kuril Islands chain and lies right between the Russian territory of Kamchatka and the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
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The Russian Defense Ministry says the Bastion missile system is part of the Russian Federation’s Pacific Fleet. Round-the-clock duty of the operational groups controlling the missile system begins. BulgarianMilitary.com reports that just days ago Russia deployed a military camp that is classified as autonomous. It housed Russian soldiers, as well as served as a storage facility for food and medical supplies. There are also facilities for equipment repair. According to Russian sources, the deployment of the autonomous camp together with the coastal missile system means that the MoD is starting a targeted annual presence in the region.
The Kuril Islands
The Kuril Islands are a key island chain separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean. They are a territorial dispute between the Russian Federation and Japan. Japan does not call them the Kuril Islands, but the Northern Territories.
The dispute between Japan and Russia over the islands has been going on for a decade. In reality, Russia and Japan are still at war, even though World War II is long over. Russia captured the islands precisely during the second world war and since then considers them its territory.
After the war in Ukraine started, Japan reacted and imposed economic sanctions on the Russian Federation. Moscow responded swiftly by withdrawing its negotiating team and walking out of the decade-long talks.
Russia continues to deploy weapons in the region
The deployment of the Bastion coastal missile system on Paramushil Island is not the only military action of the Russian Defense Ministry. According to sources, Russia has deployed more than 3,500 troops, tanks, self-propelled howitzers, and other types of self-propelled artillery on the Itorofu and Kunashiri islands.
However, the soldiers and ground weaponry in these islands are not from Russia’s Pacific Fleet, but from the Eastern Military District of the Russian Federation. According to unofficial data, nearly 100,000 soldiers are under the command of this military district. Japan, however, claims that the soldiers number no more than 80,000, but makes one caveat: only in peacetime.
The US is also involved
Indirectly or not, the USA is also involved in the Russian-Japanese disagreements as early as 2012. Then, US President Mr. Barack Obama decided to send thousands of soldiers to East Asia. For Russia, this is unacceptable, since the Kuril Islands are Russia’s real access to the Pacific Ocean.
Following Washington’s decision to focus its gaze on East Asia, the President of Russia, Mr. Vladimir Putin, decided to strengthen his control in the Far East. It is for this reason that the Kuril Islands suddenly became a strategic fulcrum of Russian defense. Experts say Mr. Putin’s decision to look to the Far East was dictated by fear of the US militarising the island territory.
From a military point of view, the Russian president is taking action to ensure a smooth passage through the Soja and Spanberg straits. They are of extreme importance for the naval forces of Moscow since it is through them that the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean are passed.
Under the radar
The war in Ukraine focused all the attention on Eastern Europe. Daily military maneuvers, announcements of victories and losses, and the engagement of international attention kept the Russians’ actions in the Kuril Islands under the radar. That’s what the US-based think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies [CSIS], claims.
The CSIS report said that Russia’s recent actions in the region [deployment of heavy ground equipment, missile systems, and troops] mean that negotiations between Japan and Russia are entering their disastrous phase for both countries. CSIS advises Washington and Tokyo to intensify consultations with each other to find a solution to counter Russian actions.
‘The Wind of Change’
‘The Wind of Change’ is the code name of an FSB officer. This is exactly how the sender of a letter distributed to some embassies and media in 2021 is described. According to the author of the letter, Moscow is preparing to attack Japan in the summer of 2021. For the official purpose, the Wind of Change was to organize a large-scale media campaign against Japan to justify a future war between Japan and Russia.
The “Wind of Change” claims in its letter that Russia’s interest is related to the weakening of Japanese defenses. I.e. The Kuril Islands “have lost World War II status, and are prevented from having an official military force and a foreign intelligence service.”
Thus, writes the “FSB official”, the return of the Kuril Islands to Japan means an international review of the post-war status of the country.
But this explanation is according to the Russian geopolitical perspective. I.e. Moscow fears that the US may be interested in helping Japan regain the Kuril Islands to ensure Japan’s support in a potential future conflict with China.
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