MOSCOW, March 22 (Reuters) – Russia said on Wednesday that a division of its Bastion coastal defence missile systems had been deployed to Paramushir, one of the Kuril islands in the north Pacific, some of which Japan claims as its territory.
The move is part of a wider strengthening of Russian defences in its vast far eastern regions, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said, partly in response to what he called U.S. efforts to “contain” Russia and China.
Shoigu was speaking to Russia’s top army brass a day after President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping cemented their “no limits” partnership at talks in the Kremlin with agreements on deeper energy and military cooperation.
“To contain Russia and China, the United States is significantly increasing its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, strengthening its political and military links with its allies, continuing to create a new American security architecture in this region,” Shoigu said in a video of his address published by Russia’s defence ministry.
Shoigu said the Bastion system would bolster Russian security around the Kuril island chain.
Japan, a close U.S. ally, claims the four southern Kuril islands, which were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two. Japan does not claim Paramushir, one of the northern Kuril islands.
The issue has prevented Moscow and Tokyo ever signing a peace treaty formally ending hostilities.
Russian armed forces in the east of the country have received around 400 items of modern military equipment over the past year, including SU-57 jets and anti-aircraft missile systems, Shoigu said.
“The military capabilities of the eastern military district have significantly increased,” he said.
Shoigu also said the modernisation of Moscow’s air defence system would be completed this year.
Russian officials have blamed Kyiv for a string of drone attacks deep inside Russian territory since the beginning of the military campaign in Ukraine.
On the Ukraine conflict, Shoigu said Russian aerospace forces had so far destroyed more than 20,000 Ukrainian military facilities since the start of what Moscow calls its “special military operation”.