(From the National Interest)
By Zachary Keck
China isn’t the only country embarking on an island-building campaign on disputed territory.
On Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed that Russia will launch a civilian and military build-up on the Kuril Islands, which Japan also claims.
“We’re restoring both the civilian and defense infrastructure of the Kurils,” Medvedev said, according to Russia’s state-owned media.
Medvedev went on to explain that this initiative would be led by the Russian armed forces and Defense Ministry. “The Armed Forces, and the Defense Ministry of Russia are dealing not only with the military but also with the civilian component,” the Russian premier said.
Medvedev also announced that he will be visiting the Kuril Islands shortly. “I am planning to go there and have a look how matters stand there,” he said. He further encouraged other Russian cabinet members to visit the islands.
The decision to build up the islands’ infrastructure, as well as have the Russian prime minister and other cabinet members visit the Kuril Islands, is likely to set off tensions with Japan. Tokyo has long claimed the islands, and previously occupied them under the terms of Russia and Japan’s first bilateral treaty, the Treaty of Shimoda, signed in 1855. Soviet forces seized the islands in the waning days of WWII, and Russia and Japan have technically remained at war ever since over the dispute. Read more