Disputed Kuriles serve as strategic line of defense for Russia

The geographical position of the Kuril Islands makes them a natural line of defense for the Russian Far East, the Russian president’s envoy to the Far East Federal District, Konstantin Pulikovsky, told.

The islands play a key role in providing Russia’s Pacific Fleet with a deployment base in the Sea of Okhotsk and an entry to the Pacific, also serving as an antisubmarine barrier at the entrance to the Sea of Okhotsk, Interfax quoted Pulikovsky as saying.

Speaking about Japan’s claim over the islands, Pulikovsky said that the existing Russian-Japanese border is a historical fact based on international agreements sealed after World War Two. In its talks with Tokyo, Moscow is proceeding from the principle that a mutually acceptable border settlement must not endanger Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The territory, known as the Northern Territories in Japan, has been disputed between Russia and Japan for the past 60 years.

In a nationwide phone-in last week, President Putin ruled out any negotiations with Tokyo over the islands, which lie between Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Interfax reports.

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