Russian forces deployed their anti-ship K-300P Bastion missile launchers on Thursday on the island of Matua, which is located north of the Japanese mainland.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense disclosed the deployment of the Bastion missile launchers in a video it shared on social media. The video showed the mobile-launcher trucks offloading from an amphibious landing craft before driving across the island to Russian military-controlled launch sites.
The Russian Bastion missile systems use the P-800 Oniks missile. The missile is typically equipped with high explosive and semi-armor piercing warheads and is primarily used in Russia’s coastal defense systems as an anti-ship weapon, though the missiles can also strike land-based targets. The missiles can fly at speeds of around Mach 2.2 and can travel about 300 km (about 186 miles).
Russia similarly deployed the Bastion missile system along the coastline of Crimea after annexing the territory from Ukrainian control in 2014.
The island of Matua is located on the Kuril Island chain, located to the north of Japan. The Kuril Islands have been a point of contention between Russia and Japan for years.
Japan controlled parts of the Kuril Island chain until Soviet Russia seized control of the islands at the end of World War II. The islands have been under Russian administration ever since. Japan still maintains a claim to sovereignty over some of the Kuril Islands, which it refers to as the Northern Territory. Matua is not among those islands claimed by Japan.
Russia and Japan never signed a peace treaty after World War II and, one of the main obstacles to such a peace treaty has been the dispute over ownership of the Kuril Islands.
In October, Russian warships sailed around the islands and conducted missile drills, prompting renewed calls from the Japanese side to resolve the territorial dispute.
With this latest deployment of Russian missile troops, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said troops assigned to the Bastion missile systems deployed to an autonomous military camp and they “will be on a 24-hour watch to monitor the adjacent water area and straits.” The defense ministry said additional equipment, personnel and materials are also being delivered to the military camp.
Reuters reported in August that Russia planned to build 51 more pieces of military infrastructure on the Kuril Islands.