The deployment of S-300V4 air defence systems (ADS) on the Kuril Islands near Japan is in response to Washington’s plans to deploy missiles in the Asia-Pacific region (APR), a former Russian Army Lieutenant General has said.
Aytech Bizhev, who served as the deputy chief of the Russian Air Force Unified Air Defense System said in an interview to Interfax, “These weapons are purely defensive. These are not Iskanders, not high-precision strike missiles. These are systems that will be integrated into the overall air defense system of the 11th Air Force and Air Defense Army. This is an element of Russia’s overall national air defense system in the Far East.”
According to him, “additional S-300s in the Russian Far East are also a response from the United States’ plans to deploy missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.”
It can also pose a threat to US long range bombers and surveillance aircraft whose frequency has increased as the US flexes its muscles against Russia and China.
Bizhev noted that by strengthening air defense in the South Kuriles, Russia confirms its right to these territories. “Recently, unfriendly actions against the Russian Federation have been manifested in terms of the ownership of the Kuril Islands. Territorial claims are being made. We need to strengthen our positions.”
Tokyo has protested the deployment of S-300V4 in the South Kuriles. “This is unacceptable because of Japan’s position on the northern territories (the southern Kuril Islands disputed by Tokyo) and is unacceptable,” a Japanese government official, quoted by NHK, said on Tuesday.
Bizhev noted that air defense systems were on the Kuril Islands since the Soviet times. “In Soviet times, they were there. The deployment of the S-300V4 in the South Kuril Islands is building up this air defense system.
According to Bizhev, these measures make it possible to strengthen the radar field. “The farther the radar field goes out to our neighbors, the greater the opportunity to fend off threats from enemy missiles and aircraft. Probably, the command has estimated that the air defense system is weakened in this direction (towards the eastern border).
In recent years, Russia has significantly increased its military grouping in the Kuril Islands. In April 2019, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the introduction of an air defense alert zone on the Kuril island of Kunashir. In August 2018, it was reported that Su-35 fighters were deployed at the Yasny airport on Iturup Island.
Japan claims four southern Kuril Islands – Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai, citing the 1855 Treaty on Trade and Frontiers. Moscow’s position is that the South Kurils became part of the USSR following the Second World War and that Russian sovereignty over them, which has international legal registration.