Russia has confirmed that it has test-fired missiles in the Sea of Japan, an act that has drawn criticism from its neighbor Japan.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it launched two ballistic missiles from a submarine in the Sea of Japan on Tuesday. The missiles flew over the northern part of Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean.
The ministry said the launches were part of a planned military exercise and were aimed at testing the capability of the missiles. The missiles were described as intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
The launches have been met with criticism from the Japanese government. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the launches were “extremely regrettable” and that Japan would “strongly protest” to Russia.
The incident has also drawn condemnation from the United States. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the US is “deeply concerned” by the launches. He said they were “inconsistent with Russia's obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty” and that the US will “closely monitor the situation”.
The test-firings come at a time when tensions between Russia and Japan are already high. The two countries have been in a long-running dispute over a group of islands in the Sea of Japan that both countries claim as their own.
The test-firings could also be seen as a sign of Russia flexing its military muscle in the region. The move could be seen as a message to Japan and the US that Russia is a powerful player in the region.
The incident has raised questions about the stability of the region. It remains to be seen how Japan and the US will respond to the test-firings and whether they will lead to further escalations.