October 23, 2015 08:16
Russia's defense minister says Moscow plans to build a military base on the Kuril Islands, along with four Arctic bases that should be completed by 2018.
Sergei Shoigu told Russian news agencies Thursday the military is planning to put a large modern base on the islands with equipment necessary for border protection.
Shoigu said Russia has nearly completed several new bases with the largest on Kotelny Island in the Novosibirsk Archipelago.
Shoigu said there will also be military bases placed on Cape Schmidt, which is on the eastern coast of the Chukchi autonomous region, and Wrangel Island, which lies to the northeast of the mainland in the Chukchi Sea, a that a base on the Franz Josef Land Archipelago is near completion.
The new Russian bases are just a few hundred kilometers from the westernmost U.S. coastline.
Shoigu also announced six Arctic airfields are being modernized, and should be completed by 2017.
The Kremlin announced its intentions to deploy its military to the Arctic in 2008, but has not stationed troops there yet.
The Kurils lie off of Russia's eastern coast and some of the islands in the archipelago are also claimed by Japan, which it calls the Northern Territories.
The dispute between Russia and Japan over these islands has remained unresolved since World War Two. The conflict has kept the two nations from signing a formal peace treaty.
The Soviet Union seized the islands in 1945, shortly before Japan's surrender in World War II.
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