The deployment of advanced medium-range S-400 Triumf missile systems on the disputed Kuril Islands would be excessive and potentially dangerous as they can reach Japanese territory, a Russian military commander said on Wednesday.
Shorter range Buk (SA-11 Gadfly) systems should be sufficient for the purpose, Maj. Gen. Sergei Popov, chief of the Air Force Antiaircraft and Missile Troops, said.
“Given the proximity of the state border, it is inexpedient to deploy a Space Defense Force brigade with S-400 systems on the Kuril Islands,” he said.
A high-ranking official in the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces said on Tuesday Moscow would deploy reinforcements with short- to long-range air defense missile systems, including the advanced S-400 Triumf system, to the southern Kuril Islands to protect Russia’s sovereignty in the Far East.
President Dmitry Medvedev said last week the islands’ security must be ensured with modern weaponry.
A dispute over the islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan, has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty to officially end World War Two hostilities. The islands were seized by Soviet forces at the end of the conflict.
The issue came to the fore again last November after Medvedev’s visit to Kunashir, the second-largest of the four islands.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called Medvedev’s visit to Kunashir an “inexcusable rudeness,” sparking an angry reaction from Moscow.