Moscow has confirmed moves to modernise its military presence on islands over which Japan claims sovereignty.Ер
Russia beefs up its military presence on Kuril Islands, with two modern military towns built during the coming two years
'The restoration of military units on the Kuril Islands proceeds as scheduled in compliance with the Russian president's instructions,' said General Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces.
'There will be two modern military towns. Deployment of military hardware and arms also proceeds in line with the plan.'
The plans would be finished in 12 to 24 months, he said on Tuesday.
Asked whether tanks would be deployed on the Kurils, Makarov stressed: 'There will be as many tanks as necessary.' He added: 'Why should we deploy many tanks there, if snow on the Kurils reaches four meters? Undoubtedly, we will take into consideration real demands.
'We will deploy that grouping there, which according to our estimates, will ensure the country's security during this period.'
His comments follow a visit earlier this month by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko, commander of the troops of the Eastern Military District, and an announcement that the large landing ship Admiral Nevelskoi and tugboat Kalar will visit three of the four islands for ceremonies honouring Soviet sailors who died there at the end of the Second World War.
As president, Dmitry Medvedev visited the Kuril Islands in 2010 and returned as prime minister in July this year.
Russia announced last year that two modern military bases were planned on the island of Iturup and Kunashir.
More modern defence systems will also be deployed. Facilities for both military and civilian aircraft are also being improved.
Soviet forces occupied the islands at the end of the Second World War. Tokyo continues to claim the territory which it knows as the Northern Territories or Chishima Islands are Japanese.
The dispute over the islands is a running dispute in relations.
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