Japan's Ministry of Defense reported it had tracked four large Russian ships transporting troops northward; they then headed west. Based on their trajectory, Japanese officials suggested that the ships might have charted a course towards Europe. Two ships came by Tuesday night at 8 P.M., with two more arriving at 7 A.M. on Wednesday morning.
The defense ministry published photos of a vessel used to land expeditionary forces during amphibious assaults. According to The Mainichi, one vessel had military trucks aboard its deck. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense said that it was possible that the four ships were heading towards Ukraine. The vessels crossed over from the Pacific Ocean via the Tsuruga Strait to reach the Sea of Japan.
Officials stated that it is not common for Russian ships to pass through the Strait so close to Japanese territory. Japan recently confirmed its claim to the Kuril Islands. This has been a source of contention between Japan and Russia. Russia took over the islands, which were previously part of Hokkaido Prefecture, at the end of World War II. Japan has been working for many decades to secure the islands. Japan recently stated that the islands were “primordially Japanese” and called Russia's occupation an “occupation against international law.”
Japan has not supported Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has implemented strong sanctions against the latter. It joined its U.S. and European allies in removing Russian banks from SWIFT's international financial system in February. Japan also froze assets belonging to President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking Russian officials, while sending $100 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
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