Russia to strengthen defenses on far-east islands

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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) visits a machine gun regiment on Iturup island, one of four islands in a chain that lies off . (Photo by AFP)

Russia will take measures to develop infrastructure in far-eastern islands that are also claimed by Japan, in an effort to prevent the emergence of even “the smallest threats.”
Commander of the Eastern Military District, Colonel-General Sergey Surovikin said on Friday that the military would launch “unprecedented measures to develop military infrastructure” in the Islands.
“The main goal of the expedition is to study the possibility of basing Pacific Fleet forces there,” said the commander.
Around 200 forces are currently deployed to an uninhabited island in an archipelago called Matua. They have built a mobile camp and are reviewing the state of infrastructure there.
Earlier this month, Russia sent six ships to the island as part of a rearmament plan, which also includes the deployment of 60 new aircraft and helicopters, in addition to three vessels and over 20 drones.
Back in March, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow would deploy a range of coastal missile systems on Kuril Islands. “The planned rearmament of contingents and military bases on Kuril Islands is under way.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also reaffirmed in April that Moscow will protect the Kuril Islands and will continue to develop military infrastructure there.
Russia has military bases on the Kuril Pacific archipelago. Japan claims sovereignty over four of the islands in the archipelago. The disputed islands, which were inhabited by the Japanese and under Tokyo’s control based on an agreement with Russia in 1855, were captured by the Soviet Union in 1945.
Earlier this year, Japanese media said Tokyo believes that it is time to engage in negotiations with Moscow over the territorial dispute.
President Vladimir Putin, however, has ruled out the possibility of engaging in any negotiations in order to “sell” control over the islands at a “better price.”
“We are ready to purchase a lot, but we aren’t selling anything,” Putin has said.

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