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Russian Navy Vessels To Visit Disputed Islands

Then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a visit to Kunashiri Island, one of four islands known as the Southern Kuriles in November 2010
Russia has announced that it will send two navy vessels to the disputed Kurile Islands in the Pacific Ocean, a move likely to anger Japan, which lays claim to the islands.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the two vessels will visit three of the four islands as part of ceremonies honoring Soviet sailors who died there at the end of World War II.

The Pacific fleet ships are scheduled to travel between August 25 and September 17.

The dispute over the islands has strained relations between Russia and Japan since 1945, when Soviet forces occupied the islands.

Japan says the islands are part of its territory and has called on Moscow to hand them over.

Tensions flared in 2010 after Dmitry Medvedev made the first visit to the islands by a Russian president.

Based on reporting by Interfax and Reuters