Russian warships pass between Japan’s westernmost islands

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Three Russian navy ships have passed between the two westernmost Japanese islands of Yonaguni and Iriomote, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday, as tensions between Tokyo and Moscow continue to escalate over the Ukrainian crisis.

The destroyer, frigate and supply ships sailed between islands close to Taiwan from Friday to Saturday and headed for the East China Sea, said the ministry, which for the first time revealed the naval passage. of Russia in the region.

A Russian Navy destroyer is pictured in the East China Sea on July 2, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Japan’s Defense Ministry Joint Staff) (Kyodo)

The ministry, which analyzes the ships’ actions and motives, presumed they were about to return to Russia. The crossing occurred amid an increased Russian and Chinese naval presence in the waters around Japan.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said last month that five Russian navy ships “nearly encircled Japan” and three Chinese ships followed a similar course.

The Russian destroyer and frigate had accompanied these five warships for part of their journey, sailing with them south off Hokkaido and passing the Izu Islands south of Tokyo on June 16.

Increased Russian military activity near Japan also involved a joint bomber flight with China over the Sea of ​​Japan, East China Sea and Pacific in late May.

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