On Aug. 3, Sakhalin Info, a news agency in Russian Far East Sakhalin, reported that Russian Air Force Sukhoi 35S fighters have been stationed on a trial basis at Yazny Airport on Etorofu Island in the Northern Territories. In recent years, the Russian military has been developing its capabilities in the Northern Territories, and this is regarded to be part of those efforts.
The Russian military is loath to compromise on territorial matters. Because the move was made with the Japan-Russia summit on the horizon in mid-September, it looks like it was done to send a warning.
Russian military affairs specialist Yu Koizumi, who is a research fellow at the Institute for Future Engineering, points out: The local airport “does not have an apron for fighter planes nor does it have an alert hangar on the runway for scrambles, so I don’t think it is fully operational yet.” Near the airport, though, there is unused land, so there is a chance that the [airport’s] functions will be expanded, he adds.