Kremlin installs missiles on Kurils
Then president Dmitry Medvedev visited Kunashir, the southernmost of the Kuril Islands, in 2010. Source: Kremlin
Russia’s Pacific Fleet has installed batteries of anti-ship missiles at its bases on the disputed Kuril Islands, amid ongoing talks with Japan about a possible deal over their sovereignty.
The Boyevaya Vakhta (Combat Watch) publication of the Pacific Fleet reported that the Kurils’ naval base received the Bal and Bastion missiles (which have the Nato codenames Sennight and Stooge) and is preparing to conduct training tests.
Russia’s navy said the deployment of the state-of-art anti-ship weapons on the Kurils would strengthen the protection of the Pacific coast. The Bastion is a mobile launch system for the supersonic Onyx missile that can accurately target surface ships and land targets at a range of 600km.
Armed with low-altitude subsonic anti-naval vessel X-35 missiles, the Bal missile system is able to destroy ground targets within about 130km. The X-35 missiles are capable of destroying ships with a displacement of 5,000 tonnes.
The Kurils were seized by the Red Army at the end of the Second World War with Japan claiming at least some of the archipelago’s return.
In recent years, Japanese nationalists have marked September 7 as Northern Territories Day, in reference to their name for the islands. Japan’s diplomats complain when high-profile Russian representatives visit the Kurils.
“We do not trade territories,” Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said in September.
The path towards signing a peace treaty “is not simple”, Putin said on Sunday, suggesting that talks could drag on over the dispute. The Kremlin was struggling with how to move the territorial negotiations forward, a Russian political source told Nikkei Asian Review.
Moscow appeared to be trying to lower Japan’s expectations if it wanted to continue to improve bilateral ties. Putin is reportedly hoping stronger relations with Japan will divide the G7, which continues to impose economic sanctions on Russia after the 2014 Ukraine invasion, as well as bolstering Russia’s diplomatic position with China.
In May, Russia’s Defence Ministry and Geographical Society sent an expedition to the island of Matua to prepare for a naval base with the commander of the Eastern Military District, Colonel-General Sergey Surovikin, saying Russia’s entire east was becoming vital to national security and would be reinforced.
“In order to stave off any, even minimal, threats, unprecedented steps are being taken by the Russian leadership and the Defence Ministry aimed at developing military infrastructure, planned rearmament of military units and enhanced social protection of all military personnel and their families,” he told the media.