Censor.NET reports citing TASS.
On March 25 Shoigu said at the session of the defense ministry's collegium that "Pacific Fleet sailors will start a three month-long expedition to islands of the Greater Kuril Ridge in April." "Their main goal is to study the possibilities of setting up a Pacific Fleet base there in future," he added.
The defense minister said earlier that Russia would deploy Bal and Bastion coastal defense missile systems and new-generation Eleron-3 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on the Kuril Islands in 2016.
Tor-M2U (NATO reporting name: SA-15 Gauntlet) short-range surface-to-air missile systems assumed combat duty on the Kuril Islands last year.
According to The Diplomat, Russia's military buildup on the islands last year has also led to the postponement of a long-planned visit to Japan by Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite brief hopes of a resolution of the long-running territorial dispute involving the Kuril islands during the 2015 United Nations General Assembly in September in New York.
The disputed Northern territories-known in Japanese as the Shikotan, Kunashiri, Etorofu and the Habomai islets-and located in the Sea of Okhotsk in the Northwest Pacific, were seized by the Soviet Union in 1945. By 1949 the Russians had expelled all 17,000 Japanese residents of the islands.
Under the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, Tokyo renounced "all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands," however, Moscow never signed the peace treaty and Tokyo refused to concede that the four disputed islands were in fact part of the Kuril chain.
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