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Russian missile deployment in Northern Territories to show area's strategic importance

Russia has deployed state-of-the-art missiles on the Northern Territories in a bid to emphasize that the islands are part of its territory and underscore their strategic importance to Moscow.

While promoting talks with Japan over a peace treaty, Russia has demonstrated that it will pursue its national security interests. Moreover, Moscow apparently aims to demonstrate its military might as the international political situation becomes volatile following Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential race.

At a September news conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin underscored the need to consider Russia's security as it consults with Japan over the territorial dispute.

Russia regards the Chishima Islands, also known as the Kuril Islands, as the defensive periphery of its Far Eastern region. In particular, an area around the Northern Territories comprising four islands -- Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai group of islets -- are Russia's gateway to the Pacific Ocean.

Russia is of the view that even the handover of Habomai and Shikotan to Japan, mentioned in the 1956 joint declaration by the Japan and the Soviet Union, could have an impact on Russia's defense.

Moscow has decided to build a new base for its navy's Pacific Fleet on Matsuwa Island in central Chishima. Russia is already building up its military presence on the Kunashiri and Etorofu islands.

The move is apparently in response to Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles, which the United States and South Korea have agreed to deploy at a U.S. base in South Korea. Moreover, Russia has reacted sharply to the missile defense system that NATO has deployed in Eastern Europe.

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