Several anti-aircraft missile systems deployed by Russia on two disputed islands off northern Japan in 2020 have been moved from the islands, an analysis of satellite images showed Thursday, raising the possibility that Moscow is repurposing weapons from its Far East for use in the war against Ukraine, KYODO NEWS reports.
Yu Koizumi, a lecturer at the University of Tokyo, made the analysis based on satellite images of the Etorofu and Kunashiri islands taken by the American space company Maxar Technologies Inc. Koizumi is also convinced that old tanks and artillery previously stored at a military facility on Sakhalin are being sent to the front in Ukraine.
Missile units equipped with S-300V4 air defense missile systems have been located in Hitokappu Bay in Etorofu, known in Russia as Kasatka Bay, and near the central Kunashiri settlement of Furukamappu, known in Russia as Yuzhno-Kurilsk.
Between mid- and late September last year, numerous transporters carrying S-300V4 missiles, radars and other equipment were spotted at both military stations.
Koizumi said they may have been redeployed to Russia's western region near its border with Ukraine in preparation for a potential attack.
He also suggests that a large number of old tanks and howitzers at a military facility in southern Sakhalin were sent to Ukraine after being temporarily taken to factories for repair.
Troops from the Far East are also moving to Ukraine. According to Koizumi, an elite marine brigade based in Vladivostok has suffered heavy casualties in the fighting, and some residents of Etorofu and Kunashiri islands died after mobilizing.
"The Russian military is deploying all the weapons at their disposal, which indicates their active participation in the conflict," Koizumi said.
Iodorofu and Kunashiri are among four disputed islands that Japan calls its northern territories and that Russia claims, calling them the Southern Kuriles.