The Russian authorities have rejected Japan’s request to exclude the Kuril Islands from the territories where the Russian Armed Forces will hold upcoming military training, which will begin at the end of August.
The Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday announced the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) plan, a series of military exercises to be held between August 30 and September 5 and aimed at «ensuring military security» in the country’s eastern region.
Following this announcement, Tokyo came out on Thursday and launched a diplomatic protest expressing its concern about the future military maneuvers in the Kuriles, a small archipelago in dispute between the two countries and located between the Japanese island of Hokkaido and the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka.
Now, in response to Japan’s request to exclude the archipelago from the military maneuvers, the Russian ambassador in Tokyo, Mikhail Galuzin, has stressed the «need to strengthen the defense potential in the area of the Kuril Islands».
«Of course, the appeals of the Japanese side (…) have been rejected by us as groundless and meaningless,» Galuzin asserted in statements to the Russia24 television channel and picked up by the TASS news agency.
Later, the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, also reacted to Japan’s protest, which she called «inappropriate», as she considers that Tokyo «demands» from Moscow the exclusion of the Kuriles.
In this sense, the spokeswoman of the Russian diplomacy has stressed that the archipelago is «an integral part of the territory of the Russian Federation» and that its Russian identity should be beyond any doubt, so Moscow has the right to act in them.
The archipelago is made up of a group of islands –Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai–, inhabited by only a handful of Japanese citizens, which were occupied by Soviet troops in World War II.