Moscow will deploy reinforcements to include short- and long-range air defense missile systems including the latest S-400 Triumf system to the southern Kuril Islands to protect Russia's sovereignty in the Far East, a high-ranking official in the General Staff of the armed forces said on Tuesday.
Military support with modern weaponry is a must for the security of the islands, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a meeting last week with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Regional Development Minister Viktor Basagrin.
Four sparsely populated islands (Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai) in the Kuril chain between Japan's northern island of Hokkaido and Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula were annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II but are still claimed by Japan.
The dispute over the islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan, has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a formal peace treaty.
The General Staff official said S-400 missile defense systems could be deployed to the islands to protect them from possible attacks.
Prior to Medvedev's visit to one of the disputed islands in November, Japan voiced its concerns saying the arrival of the Russian leader could complicate bilateral relations, but Russia's Foreign Ministry rejected Tokyo's attempts to change Medvedev's plans saying he "defines the routes of trips across his country on his own."
The visit was the first trip by a head of state of Russia or the former Soviet Union to the South Kuril Islands.
Soon after landing on Kunashir Island, Medevedev uploaded on his Twitter account a photograph of Kunashir's landscape made by him with the note: "There are so many picturesque places in Russia. Kunashir."
Speaking during a rally in Tokyo on February 8, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called Medvedev's visit to the islands last November an "inexcusable rudeness," sparking an angry response from Moscow.