5 Russian navy ships spotted in waters off eastern Hokkaido

Courtesy of Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff / Jiji Press
A Russian Navy vessel is spotted off the Nemuro Peninsula in Hokkaido on Thursday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff said Friday that it has confirmed five Russian naval vessels operating in waters off the eastern part of Hokkaido.

On Thursday, the Maritime Self-Defense Force escort ship Yudachi spotted the Russian vessels, including a destroyer, engaging in what appeared to be drills on fleet maneuvers and other tactics in waters some 170 kilometers southeast of Hokkaido’s Nemuro Peninsula.

The sighting of the destroyer and four other Russian warships is likely linked to large-scale military exercises conducted by Russia in the Pacific.

“As it is possible that [Russia] might also conduct military exercises near the Sanriku coast, we need to monitor the situation closely,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that it will conduct the large-scale military exercises in the Pacific from June 3, with around 40 Pacific Fleet vessels and others taking part.

Navigation warnings have been issued for waters near the Kuril Islands and the Sanriku coast.

Believing that the exercises are Russia’s way of showing its capability of operating in the Far East even while at war with Ukraine, Japan’s Defense Ministry is on high alert.