With the eyes of much of the world focused on Ukraine and the conflict caused by the Russian invasion of that European country, the main powers took the opportunity to test weapons and operational military capacity and logistics in other stages of geopolitical tension, namely in the Asia-Pacific region.
This Friday, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation shared a videovia Telegram, of a military test carried out in daylight and involving the launch of a cruise missile from a nuclear submarine in the Sea of Japan.
Cited by the Russian agency TASS, the ministry said it was a Kalibr-type missile – widely used, for example, by the Russian war fleet in the Black Sea to attack energy infrastructures in Ukraine and capable of hitting targets at around 1000 kilometers away – which “hit a designated target at the Siurkum tactical field in the Khabarovsk region at the scheduled time”.
Russia has been strengthening, in recent years, its presence and military capacity in the Far East, namely around the Kuril Islands, further east, a territory conquered by the Soviet Union from Japan at the end of World War II and which still today it is disputed between Moscow and Tokyo, because of its geostrategic position at the exit of the Sea of Okhotsk and at the entrance of the Pacific Ocean.
In September last year, close to the anniversary date of the Soviet victory over Japan, the Russian Armed Forces held several military exercises on two (Etorofu/Iturup and Kunashiri/Kunashir) of the four islands claimed by Tokyo, located a few dozen kilometers from the Japanese island of Hokkaido, the second largest in the country.
A few months later, Moscow announced the installation of a missile system on the island of Paramushir, capable of firing projectiles up to 500 kilometers away.
It was not surprising, therefore, that “pacifist” Japan included Russia, along with China and North Korea, as the main threats to its security in the Asia-Pacific region in the last major review of its Defense policy, revealed in mid-December, and which revealed the intention to double its military budget, from 1% to 2% of GDP, within five years.
This is the highest Japanese military spending since World War II and will make Japan the third country in the world that spends the most on Defense – behind the US and China.
“Looking at its surroundings, Japan faces the most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II,” because of pressure “from those who seek to unilaterally change the status quo through force”, reads the main Japanese strategic document, which includes Russians, Chinese and North Koreans in this club of “strategic challenges” to Japan.
In response, the Kremlin said Japanese investment will “inevitably provoke new security challenges and will lead to heightened tensions in the Asia-Pacific region”.
US and South Korea move
Also this Friday, informed the Ministry of Defense of South Korea, North Americans and South Koreans carried out military exercises in the region, which involved the respective Air Forces, namely B-1B bombers, from the USA, and fighters. F-15K and KF-16, from Seoul Korea.
Then, in a joint statement, the two allies announced large-scale military exercises between the 13th and 23rd of this month, which will aim to deal with North Korea’s “aggression” and “dissuade” Kim Jong-un’s regime from proceed with the successive ballistic tests of the last year.
Designated as “Freedom Shield” (“Freedom Shield”, free translation), will be the biggest exercises between US and South Korea since 2017, reports Reuters.
“[A operação] ‘freedom shield‘ was designed to bolster the alliance’s defense and response capabilities, focusing, in the exercise setting, on such things as the changing security environment, North Korean aggression, and lessons learned from recent wars and conflicts,” explain the allies.
The announcement of these maneuvers comes just weeks after the North Korean regime displayed at least a dozen alleged intercontinental missiles at a military parade in Pyongyang and after a year in which at least 70 ballistic projectiles were tested – an absolute record.
The US, South Korea and Japan now fear that North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test, which, if confirmed, will be the first such test since 2017.