Russia's Naval Maneuvers Stir Controversy in Japan Following Kishida's U.S. Visit

Written by Henrik Rothen

Apr.18 - 2024 8:16 PM CET

Photo: Alexandros Michailidis /
Photo: Alexandros Michailidis /
Putin delivers a 'provocative' gift to Japan.

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Three Russian naval ships entered the Sea of Japan for training exercises, just days after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's visit to the United States.

This development has been interpreted by some as a direct message from Moscow to Tokyo, following Kishida's promises to intensify sanctions against Russia during his U.S. trip.

A Timely Display of Military Might

According to the Chinese media outlet Baijiahao, the timing of these maneuvers was no coincidence.

The report suggests that these exercises were Moscow's not-so-subtle response to Kishida’s recent statements in Washington, where he vowed continued pressure on Russia in alignment with U.S. policies.

Observers from Baijiahao noted,

“Russia once again confirmed that it is a 'combat nation', a term frequently used in China to describe Russia's military posture.”

A 'Gift' from Putin to Kishida?

The exercises involved the ships neutralizing several helicopters and combat ships of a hypothetical enemy. While officially these were routine training activities, commentators have proposed that the real target was unmistakable.

"At first glance, the Russian fleet was fighting an imaginary opponent, but any discerning eye could see that the appearance of these three Russian ships was a clear warning to Japan," reported Baijiahao.

The media in China highlighted that this move was akin to delivering a "gift" from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Kishida, symbolizing the consequences of antagonizing Russia.

This interpretation paints a picture of a tense post-encounter message, showcasing the enduring complexities in Russo-Japanese relations, still marred by the absence of a formal peace treaty.

The response from Japan was swift and marked by concern. The presence of Russian military might so close to its shores, and immediately following diplomatic engagements with the U.S., has stirred unease in Tokyo.

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