Video shows Russia deploys 90 years old T-34 tanks to Kuril Island to defend against high-tech Japanese forces

Russia has moved old tanks, artillery, and multiple air defense systems from a group of islands claimed by both Moscow and Tokyo. That’s according to a Japanese researcher, who believes the equipment could have been redeployed for use in the ongoing war against Ukraine.

Yu Koizumi, a lecturer at the University of Tokyo, told Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun on Thursday that he came to the conclusion after looking at satellite images taken by U.S. space tech company Maxar Technologies of the Etorofu and Kunashiri islands, which are part of the disputed Southern Kuril islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories.

Russia often use Soviet-era T-34 tanks at Victory Day Parade in Moscow, Russia. Russia has reportedly moved old tanks, artillery, and multiple air defense systems from a group of islands claimed by both Moscow and Tokyo.

The Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan and Habomai islands of the Kuril Island chain were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. Tokyo claims the islands as its “Northern Territories” and the issue has strained relations between Russia and Japan for decades. A peace treaty formally ending World War II has never been signed by Russia and Japan, largely because of disputes over the group of islands claimed by Japan but occupied by Russia.

Because of their location between the large Japanese island of Hokkaido and Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, the islands offer a number of military and political benefits. On October 7, 2022, Ukraine recognized the southern Kuril Islands as Japanese territory.

Koizumi said the equipment, stored at military facilities in the Etorofu and Kunashiri islands, is likely being sent to the front lines in Ukraine.

“The Russian military is deploying all weapons at their disposal, which is evidence of their active engagement in the conflict,” Koizumi said.

Publicly available figures indicate that Russia has lost a number of tanks since President Vladimir Putin invaded neighboring Ukraine more than 18 months ago.

The Dutch open-source outlet Oryx said that since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022, Russia has lost at least 6,274 tanks, of which 5,468 were destroyed, 129 were damaged, 130 were abandoned, and 549 were captured.

Meanwhile, figures published by Ukraine’s General Staff on Friday showed the total number of Russian tanks destroyed since the war began stands at 4,459, with 23 destroyed in the last 24 hours. Independent sources give numbers that are more conservative than Kyiv’s, and Russia doesn’t publish figures on its military losses.

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