Putin says no talks with Japan unless it alters stance on Ukraine

by Jun 6, 2024Featured Article, News

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that conditions are not currently in place for his country to resume talks with Japan on a post-World War II peace treaty, blaming Tokyo for souring bilateral relations by supporting Ukraine.

In response to a question from Kyodo News during a meeting with representatives of international news agencies in St. Petersburg, Putin said Russia is not refusing to engage in such a dialogue, but for it to occur Japan first needs to change its position on the war in Ukraine.

“Everything that has been done has been done by Japan,” Putin said, with nearly all bilateral talks stalled since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

In March of that year, Moscow announced its suspension of peace pact negotiations with Tokyo, criticizing it as unfriendly for imposing sanctions on Russia in lockstep with the United States and other Western countries over the invasion.

During the meeting with media representatives on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin also said he will not shy away from visiting islands off Japan’s Hokkaido that are claimed by Tokyo, reiterating they are part of Russian territory.

Putin said a visit to the islands would be less harmful for bilateral ties than Japan joining the United States and European countries in an attempt to bring about Russia’s “strategic defeat.”

He noted, however, there are no immediate plans for him to visit the islands, indicating he is busy with other matters.

Japan and Russia have been at odds over the sovereignty of the four islands, which were seized by the Soviet Union following the Asian country’s surrender in World War II on Aug. 15, 1945.

The dispute over Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan islands as well as the Habomai islet group, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kurils, has prevented the two countries from signing a postwar peace treaty.

On Russia’s deepening ties with North Korea, Putin underscored they are neighbors and Moscow will continue to develop relations, “whether others like that or not.”

North Korea has provided missiles and munitions for Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, according to U.S. and other Western officials who believe Pyongyang is seeking to obtain advanced military technologies from Moscow in return.

In connection with North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, Putin suggested the issue is unlikely to be resolved as long as Pyongyang feels it is facing external threats.