Russia to deploy missile systems in disputed Kuril islands

Russia will deploy range of coastal missile systems and drones on Kuril islands, over which Japan claims sovereignty as well

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 14, 2016.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday Moscow is to deploy missile systems and drones in Kuril islands, an area in the far east of the country that Japan considers to be part of its territory.

"The planned rearmament of contingents and military bases on Kuril islands is under way. Already this year they will get Bal and Bastion coastal missile systems as well as new-generation Eleron-3 unmanned aerial vehicles," Shoigu said during a ministry meeting.

He added at the meeting that the military is focusing on "developing military infrastructure in the Arctic and Kuril island zones" and Moscow is thinking about setting up a naval base there.

The Russian navy's Pacific fleet will embark on a three-month mission to the Kuril islands next month to explore whether the islands could serve as a naval base.

Russia has been investing in military infrastructure on the Kuril islands, which Japan considers its territory, over the last few years, including building new barracks for personnel.   

This year and next year Moscow is set to put up more than 350 buildings for military needs on the Kuril islands of Iturup and Kunashir, called Etorofu and Kunashiri in Japan.

Some 19,000 Russians live on the remote rocky islands, which were occupied by Soviet troops in the dying days of World War II.

The two countries had never officially struck a peace treaty to formally end their conflict in World War II, due to disagreement over the status of the islands, especially the four southernmost islands in the Kuril chain, known as the Northern Territories in Japan.

TRTWorld and agencies