Russia said on Monday it had built new barracks for troops on a disputed chain of islands near Japan and would build more facilities for armored vehicles, prompting a diplomatic protest from Tokyo.
Russia’s Ministry of Defence said it planned to shift troops next week into four housing complexes on two of the four disputed islands, known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.
Japan’s defense ministry says 3,500 Russian troops are deployed on the two larger islands as part of an on-going military buildup.
The news came after the Kremlin said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might visit Russia on Jan. 21 as the two countries step up efforts to defuse the territorial dispute that has prevented them from signing a World War Two peace treaty.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Monday it wanted troops and their families to move on Dec. 25 into two new housing sites on the island of Iturup (Etorofu in Japan), and into two other complexes on the island of Kunashir (Kunashiri in Japan).
Troops moved into two similar facilities last year and three more barracks are planned for 2019, the ministry said.