Russian to increase military presence on disputed Kuril Islands

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MOSCOW: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday announced that Russia will increase its military presence on the disputed Kuril Islands, RIA Novosti reported.

"Everybody must understand that the South Kuril Islands are Russian territory," said Medvedev. "We will do everything we can to step up our strategic presence on the South Kuril Islands."

Medvedev's announcement came one day after Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan demanded the return of the islands to Japan. Kan said that the visit of Medvedev to the disputed territory last November was an "inexcusable rudeness."

"There should be sufficient weaponry there to ensure the security of the islands as an unalienable part of Russia," added the Russian leader.

Medvedev also ordered the deployment of naval and ground-based units on the South Kuril Islands. The Russian president directed the units to be equipped with advanced weaponry.

After that, the Russian Defense Ministry informed that the two Mistral class amphibious assault ships built in France for the Russian Navy will be put in service with the Pacific Fleet that will be sent to safeguard the disputed territory.

On Friday, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov visited the Kuril Islands to inspect Russian troops deployed there. The visit restarted the claims of the Japanese government for the Pacific Ocean islands.

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said that Russia should be working on improving the Russian-Japanese relations instead of harming them. He labeled the visit as a "bucket of cold water poured on us."

The South Kuril Islands were seized from Japan by Soviet troops at the end of World War Two. The dispute over the Northern Territories (as known in Japan) has prevented the two countries from signing a postwar peace treaty.

(BNO NEWS )

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