MOSCOW, April 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will build more than 150 military facilities on the Iturup and Kunashir islands, part of the Kuril chain disputed by Japan, a senior military commander told reporters Friday.
“All decisions on the construction of military stations on the Iturup and Kunashir islands have been made and approved,” said Col. Gen. Sergei Suvorkin, the head of Russia’s Eastern Military District.
“All essential facilities, more than 150, will be built before 2016,” he added.
The government endorsed the decision to revamp Russia’s troops on the Far Eastern Kuril Islands in 2011. A territorial dispute with Japan over the island chain, in addition to the island of Sakhalin, prompted Russia to tighten its grip on the territories.
Relations between Russia and Japan have been impacted by the dispute over the Kuril Islands in the north Pacific since Soviet times.
Russian state-run construction firm Spetsstroi is expected to build residential camps, sports and entertainment facilities, among other types of facilities. A similar overhaul is planned for military facilities on Sakhalin Island in the north Pacific by 2020.
Surovkin added that next year Kuril garrisons would receive over 120 armored and special-purpose vehicles, with over 350 units of cutting-edge military equipment deployed to the islands over three years.
The four disputed islands — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai — were given to Soviet forces at the end of World War II and are still claimed by Japan.
The two countries never signed a permanent peace treaty following the end of World War II because of the row over the islands, which Russia calls the Southern Kurils and Japan calls the Northern Territories.