It was reported earlier this month that Frants Klintsevich, first deputy chairman of Russia’s committee on defence and security and a graduate of Sverdlovsk military-political tank artillery high school, does not think the Japanese have the right to defend themselves against the very real threat of incoming North Korean missiles.
President Trump offered air defence systems to Prime Minister Abe on his recent visit to Japan. Klintsevich says that to accept them would violate international treaties. Yet the one treaty that concerns such a weapons system, namely the peace treaty that ended the Pacific War, was never signed by the Soviet Union in 1951 because of Stalin’s stubborn shortsightedness. Thus leaving the Americans carte blanche. And the USSR’s Donald Trump, Nikita Khrushchev, failed to close the gap in the peace talks of 1956 and justified this abysmal failure later by dismissing Japan as nothing more than a land of earthquakes and volcanoes. Indeed, Russia has yet to sign a peace treaty with Japan not least because Tokyo refuses to accept that Moscow’s seizure of the islands off Hokkaido in its miniature war against Japan in August-September 1945 was ever legitimate.
The argument that such air defence missiles as the United States offered could easily be re-engineered to become offensive weapons that might reach Russia’s coastline apparently causes this particular Russian sleepless nights. I had not realised that the condition of its armed forces had deteriorated to such an unbelievable extent that Moscow had lost the effectiveness of its entire nuclear arsenal.
Worse nightmares could very well lie ahead, however, and hanging on to some useless islands may one day be viewed as the most expensive property acquisition in history.
It cannot have escaped Moscow’s attention that if North Korea persists in its alarming behaviour and continues to terrify the Japanese public, the arguments against Japan acquiring a nuclear deterrent of its own could conceivably one day disappear. Then the Kremlin might have something serious to worry about.