Russia deploys missiles to Pacific islands claimed by Japan

International

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian military on Tuesday announced the deployment of state-of-the-art air defense missiles to the Pacific islands claimed by Japan.

Russia’s Eastern Military District said in a statement that the S-300V4 air defense missile systems have entered combat duty on the Kuril Islands, adding punch to the shorter range Tor M2 missile systems deployed there earlier.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s TV station, Zvezda, reported that the air defense missile systems were deployed on Iturup, one of the four southernmost Kuril islands.

The new deployment marked the latest move in a continuous Russian military buildup on the islands, which has included stationing advanced fighter jets and anti-ship missiles there.

Japan asserts territorial rights to the islands it calls the Northern Territories. The Soviet Union took them in the final days of World War II, and the dispute has kept the countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their hostilities.

Decades of diplomatic efforts to negotiate a settlement haven’t produced any visible results.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spent a lot of time and effort in the hope of negotiating a solution during his nearly eight years in office but scored little progress.

Shortly after taking office in September, newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga discussed the territorial dispute in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Suga said he hopes to find a settlement and sign a peace treaty.

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