The new rules of Russia on the issue of “Northern territories”; how to answer Japan?

Extraordinary briefing

On 15 June the Embassy of Russia in Japan and its military Department invited the Japanese media and held an extraordinary briefing. Extraordinary because the military section of the Embassy conducts such meetings are extremely rare. It is assumed that in this Department of the GRU. They usually do not appear before the media.

And earlier, the Russian military met with the Japanese media only on important occasions, for example in order to explain the flight of Russian military aircraft near Japan immediately after the earthquake in Japan in 2011.

This time it was invited to the TV, which means that the Japanese side was planned to send an important message.

So, what is the message of the Russian side?

Russia fears the U.S.-Japan missile defense system

Before you try to understand Russian intentions, I will speak briefly about the content of the briefing.

The journalists were handing out materials in Russian and Japanese language called “American multi-tiered missile defense system: the threat to Russian security and global strategic stability.” The Russian side reiterated that the us missile defense system undermining the power of Russia’s nuclear deterrence and arms control.

The Russian defense Ministry held a similar presentation in 2012 during a summit on international security in Moscow. Therefore, the content itself is not something extraordinary.

In addition, the Embassy expressed concerns about THAAD, which is considering Japan, land of “aegis”, as they become part of the American missile defense system.

In recent years, Russia has not only opposed the deployment of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, but was concerned with the cooperation of Japan and the United States in this area. You can assume that all of this is the sequel to the original position.

The placement of THAAD in the ROK and the “Northern territories”

Meanwhile, during the last briefing Russia said that the deployment of the “Northern territories” of new missile systems last year is not a one-sided strengthening of military power as a response to the deployment in South Korea ABOUT the THAAD system.

This corresponds to the statements of President Putin to the media, which he did on 1 June.

In particular, President Putin noted that there is a possibility of the deployment of the “Northern territories” of American troops, if they are transferred to Japan. He stressed that the Southern Kuril Islands are extremely important from the point of view of the opposition in the ROK THAAD and other missile defense systems that the United States deploy in East Asia.


© U. S. Missile Defense Depasaros missiles us missile defense system THAAD

According to the Russian leader, the disarmament of the Northern territories was possible, but it is necessary to reduce tension in the region.

The Message Of Russia

I will try to summarize the briefing of the Russian Embassy and the statements of President Putin. In my opinion, the message to Russia is to tie the problem of “Northern territories” to the American military presence in East Asia as a whole.

This seriously changes the initial position of Russia on the problem of “Northern territories.”

Russia previously expressed concerns about the possibility of the construction of us military bases in “Northern territories” in the event of their return and that they will fall under us-Japan agreement in the field of security.

We can say that announced during a visit to Japan in December 2016, the words of President Putin about the responsibilities of Japan to the United States under the agreement in the field of security to indirectly Express these concerns.

That is, until the spring of this year Russia was the collaboration of Japan and USA in the field of security, however, briefing the Russian Embassy and Putin’s statement suggests that at the moment, Moscow’s position is that she will not be able to return the “Northern territories” for security reasons, until American troops will reduce their presence in East Asia.

Most likely that’s the message the Russian side has sent to Japan.

In previous articles I stressed that in order to resolve the problem of “Northern territories”, one of economic cooperation is not enough. It is also necessary to deepen trust between Russia and Japan. However, if Russia will raise the bar so high, the problem is not limited only to the scope of cooperation between Japan and the United States in the security sphere.

Therefore, we can assume that the true meaning of extraordinary briefing that Russia seems to be stated: the rules of the game on the territorial negotiations has changed.

What is the purpose Russia

The prerequisites in order that the Russian side will play under the new rules, was informed.

For example, during President Putin’s visit to Japan, as well as dialogue in the format of “2+2” the Russian side expressed concern in connection with the problem of accommodation in the Republic of Kazakhstan ABOUT the THAAD (despite the existence of dialogue with Japan).

In addition, in 2016, the President twice emphasized that the settlement of territorial problem with China took 40 years. That is, he hinted not only that the solution of the territorial question will require a long time. Putin gave to understand that until the Russian-Japanese relations will not reach the level comparable to the partnerships with China, with whom the Kremlin is cooperating in the security field in the framework of the SCO, the Southern Kuril Islands will not be returned.

Naturally, the Russian side is well aware that such manipulation will not lead to the collapse of the Japan-us Alliance.

Therefore, the aim of Russia is to seize the initiative on the territorial negotiations.


© RIA Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev | go to Photobacterium of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of the people’s Republic of China XI Jinping during the meeting. 4 Jul 2017

Thanks to Putin’s visit to Japan began to develop Russian-Japanese relations in the economic sphere. Despite this, the optimal solution for Moscow is to separate economic cooperation from territorial problems. In other words, Russia gives to understand that economic cooperation is not a condition of the return of “Northern territories”.

Now the logic of the Kremlin lies in the fact that the “Northern territories” are the line of defense against the American military presence in East Asia as a whole. Another aspect is that China is used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Japan.

It has often been noted that the convergence of the Abe administration with Russia is not only a desire to settle the territorial issue, but the existence of a Chinese threat.

However, the Russian side understands Japan’s position. If you associate the problem of “Northern territories” with the contradictions between the US, ROK and China over the deployment of THAAD, it will increase the pressure exerted by Russia on Japan. This is the logic of the Kremlin.

Especially Russia is concerned that if she were to get too hung up on the division for economic cooperation and territorial issues, this will lead to a reduction of Japanese enthusiasm for economic cooperation.

If in this case the Russian-Japanese economic cooperation will be at a standstill, Moscow will blackmail Tokyo that it will further strengthen cooperation with China in the field of security (in this case Russia will support tough stance of China on the issue of THAAD).

How will Japan respond?

Anyway less of the prerequisites for economic cooperation, which is badly needed by Russia will lead to a compromise on the issue of “Northern territories”.

Japan is not necessary to follow the logic of Russia, however, because the Islands are under the effective control of the Russian Federation, Japan will have to respond to the new rules, proposed by the Kremlin.

One of the possible ways is to simply ignore these rules.

I’m not in this article to touch on the technological features, however, THAAD Korean and Japanese-American missile defense system do not threaten the nuclear power deterrence of the Russian Federation (Russia has no Intercontinental ballistic missiles to the East of lake Baikal). It is not necessary to follow the Russian logic and agree that the “Northern territories” associated with the problem of security of the entire East Asia.

However, as I noted earlier, Japan weaker.

Therefore, Japan needs to find a way around the new rule of Russia (or to cancel the facts that led to the increase in bar).