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Medvedev Orders More Weapons To Kurile Islands

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the deployment of additional weaponry on the Kurile Islands claimed by Japan.

Medvedev told Russia's ministers of defense and regional development that the weapons "must be sufficient and modern to ensure the security of these islands which are an inseparable part of the Russian Federation."

Medvedev said Russia's strategy was to make "every effort" to increase its presence on the islands.

"Everyone must understand that [the islands] are part of the Russian Federation and our sovereignty fully extends over them, and we will make every effort to strengthen our presence on the Kurile Islands," he said. "This is our strategic policy."

His comments mark a steep sharpening of Moscow's rhetoric in the dispute with Tokyo after Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan called Medvedev's unprecedented visit to the islands in November an "unforgivable outrage."

The Kuriles have been controlled by Moscow since they were seized by Soviet troops in 1945, but their status is a major problem in Moscow-Tokyo relations.

compiled from agency reports