American and Japanese squadrons on one side, Russian fleet on the other: the Sea of Japan is experiencing intense naval activity echoing the « provocations » North Koreans but also to the war in Ukraine. This increased tension calls into question Tokyo’s defense strategy.
The Abraham-Lincoln Carrier Strike Group of the 7me The US fleet and the ships of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JSF) continued on Friday, April 15, the exercises started three days earlier. For the Americans, these maneuvers in the Sea of Japan are the first since November 2017, carried out after North Korea’s sixth nuclear test.
Submitted by Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno as a means of “strengthen Japanese-American solidarity, without targeting a particular country”, However, the operation coincides with the celebrations of April 15, in Pyongyang, on the 110me anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung (1912-1994), the founder of North Korea. Ned Price, spokesman for the State Department, recalled that the North Korean regime usually seizes important opportunities “fall into provocations”. Speculation has been circulating for several weeks about a possible nuclear test. The North has launched 14 missiles since the beginning of the year.
The « provocation » expected from the North came however from Russia. On April 14, the Russian Pacific Fleet fired Kalibr cruise missiles, used in Ukraine, from two diesel submarines, the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and the Volkhov. Announced by the Russian Defense Ministry, these tests mobilized fifteen ships.
tokyo a “expressed concern” in Moscow and asked him to avoid any act “likely to increase tensions in Northeast Asia”.
The gunshots testify to the sudden cooling of relations between Tokyo and Moscow since the start of the invasion of Ukraine. Like the United States and the European Union, Japan has adopted sanctions against Russia. Moscow responded by ending talks on a bilateral peace treaty and increasing its military activities in the Far East.
In mid-March, several Russian ships were sighted southeast of Cape Soya, the northernmost point of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Warships and military equipment crossed the Tsugaru Strait, between Hokkaido and the main island of Honshu. Some of these ships had previously participated in exercises in the Sea of Okhotsk. Moscow also fired S-300 surface-to-air missiles at Ituroup (Etorofu in Japanese) and Kounashir (Kunashiri), two of the four southern Kuril Islands, north of Hokkaido, controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan, which calls them Territories of the North.
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