Russia has said that a division of its Bastion coastal defence missile systems has been deployed to Paramushir, one of the Kuril Islands in the north Pacific, some of which Japan claims as its territory.
The move is part of a wider strengthening of Russia’s defences in its vast far eastern regions, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday, partly in response to what he called United States efforts to “contain” Russia and China.
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Moscow’s move also comes after high-level visits by Asian leaders to both sides of the Ukraine war.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, a close US ally and a key Chinese rival in East Asia, made a surprise trip to Ukraine this week, which some observers said was an attempt to upstage Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s state visit to Russia.
“To contain Russia and China, the United States is significantly increasing its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, strengthening its political and military links with its allies, continuing to create a new American security architecture in this region,” Shoigu said in a video of his address to Russia’s top brass, published by the defence ministry.
Shoigu said the Bastion system would bolster Russian security around the Kuril Islands chain.
Japan, a close US ally, claims the four southern Kuril Islands, which were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War II. Japan does not claim Paramushir, one of the northern Kuril islands.
The issue has prevented Moscow and Tokyo from ever signing a peace treaty formally ending hostilities.
Russia’s armed forces in the east of the country have received around 400 items of modern military equipment over the past year, including Su-57 jets and anti-aircraft missile systems, Shoigu said.
“The military capabilities of the eastern military district have significantly increased,” he said.
Shoigu also said the modernisation of Moscow’s air defence system would be completed this year.
Russian officials have blamed Kyiv for a string of drone attacks deep inside Russian territory since the beginning of the military campaign in Ukraine.
On the Ukraine conflict, Shoigu said Russian aerospace forces had so far destroyed more than 20,000 Ukrainian military facilities since the start of what Moscow calls its “special military operation”.