This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russia says it has built new barracks to house its troops on a disputed island chain near Japan and will build more military facilities there next year.
The December 17 announcement by the Defense Ministry is likely to anger Tokyo, which wants Moscow to reduce its military activity on the Russia-administered chain, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kuriles.
Ownership of the four islands has been in dispute since the end of World War II, when the Soviet Union occupied them.
The territorial dispute has spoiled relations between Moscow and Tokyo ever since, and a formal World War II peace treaty has yet to be signed between the two sides.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that Moscow planned to move troops into four housing complexes on two of the islands next week.
It also said that troops were moved into two such similar facilities last year with three more barracks planned for 2019.
“Also on both islands we have modern and heated storage facilities for weapons and armored vehicles,” the statement said, adding that more such facilities were planned.
There was no immediate reaction from Japan.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may visit Russia on January 21 as Russia and Japan step up a push to try to defuse the issue.