The Russian military has deployed coastal defense missile systems near the Kuril Islands, which is also claimed by Japan.
This move has been interpreted as Russia’s firm stance about protecting its interests and territorial integrity in its disputes with Japan and also a warning to the Quad.
The Bastion missile defense systems were moved to Matua, a deserted volcanic island in the middle of the chain of which Japan claims the four southernmost islands.
The deployment of coastal defense systems to Kuril islands seems to be permanent since the ministry of defense in Russia said that the deployment involved setting up living quarters for personal, hangers for vehicles, and other infrastructure.
Russia’s ministry of defense posted a video on Thursday showing massive missile carriers moving ashore from amphibious landing vessels and driving along the coast of the volcanic island to take firing positions.
The Bastion coastal defense systems are one of the most capable coastal defense systems in the world with the ability to hit a target at sea at a range of up 500 km(270 nautical miles).
Russia has been beefing up its military presence on Kuril islands since 2016 with the deployment of the Bal and the Bastion coastal defense missile systems on two of the four southernmost Kuril islands.
The deployment was followed up by sending top-of-the-line air defense missile systems there and setting up an airbase on the Iturup island where fighter jets were deployed the following year.
Japan calls the four southernmost islands, the Northern Territories and wants to assert territorial rights however the increased Russian military presence means that the possibility of that ever happening remains slim.
The Kuril Islands were taken by the Soviet Union in the final days of world war II however Japan has since disputed the take over which has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their hostilities.
Russian Bastion defense missile systems have been deployed to Matua, a volcanic island in the middle of the chain where Japan had a military base during world war II before it was overtaken by the Soviet Union which was however closed after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The deployment of such modern weapons on the disputed islands sends a clear political message to Japan and its Quad members that Russia also has interests in the pacific and should be considered a pacific power.
Russia also wants to defend its access to the pacific and according to Reuters’ report on Aug 9, Russia plans to build 51 more pieces of military infrastructure on the Kuril islands as quoted by Russia’s defense ministry.
More than 30 buildings have been erected on the island, including seven living quarters for military servicemen on Iturup and Kunashir islands claimed by Japan and are known as Northern Territories.
The U.S. through the Quad, a grouping of four countries which includes the U.S., Japan, India, and Australia is trying to write the rules of the Indo-pacific region for others to follow especially China which has been increasingly challenging U.S. presence in the region it regards as its own backward.
As the two countries with the largest economies in the world battle for the control of the Indo-Pacific region, fears of Russia being left out have increased in Moscow and so the deployment of advanced weapons in the region is a reminder of all countries involved that Russia is also a pacific power.