May 18, 2022

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Russia conducts military exercises on islands disputed with Japan

Russia conducts military exercises on islands disputed with Japan

An aerial view showing Kunashiri Island, one of four islands known as the Southern Kuril Islands in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, seen in this photo taken in 2005. REUTERS/Kyodo

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(Reuters) – Russia is conducting exercises on islands claimed by Tokyo, Japanese media reported on Saturday, days after Moscow suspended peace talks with Japan over its sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Friday, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that Russia’s Eastern Military District said it was conducting military exercises in the Kuril Islands with more than 3,000 soldiers and hundreds of pieces of military equipment.

He did not mention the location of the exercises on the island chain linking Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. Japanese media said they were in the territories seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, for which Tokyo claimed responsibility.

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The Japanese Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office could not be reached outside working hours for comment on the exercises.

A territorial dispute over the four islands – which Russia says are part of the Kuril chain and which Japan calls its northern territories – has prevented Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end hostilities.

Japan reacted angrily on Tuesday after Russia pulled out of long-running treaty talks and froze joint economic projects related to the islands, in retaliation for Japan’s accession to Western sanctions over Moscow’s month-long invasion. Read more

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Interfax said the Russian exercises included fending off amphibious warfare, including destroying defensive aircraft carrying soldiers and testing skills to operate fire control systems for anti-tank guided missiles.

“In addition, units of the air defense forces are carrying out a set of measures to detect, identify and destroy aircraft of an imaginary enemy conducting an air attack,” the agency quoted the region’s press service as saying.

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(Lydia Kelly reports from Melbourne); Additional reporting by Junko Fujita in Tokyo. Editing by William Mallard

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