10 Russian Warships Pass through Tsugaru Strait
Tokyo, March 11 (Jiji Press)--Ten Russian navy ships have passed through the Tsugaru Strait between Japan's Honshu main island and the country's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, the Japanese Defense Ministry said Friday.
In February, the navy conducted a large-scale maritime exercise in Russia's Far East region in step with Russian forces stationed around Ukraine. The 10 warships are believed to have participated in that exercise.
"It is concerning that the Russian military is stepping up operations around Japan while Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues," Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told a press conference Friday. "We will keep a close watch with a sense of tension," he added. Kishi also said that Japan has expressed its concern through diplomatic channels.
Around 2 a.m. Thursday (5 p.m. Wednesday GMT), Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol aircraft found the 10 ships, including a Udaloy-class destroyer, sailing in the Pacific Ocean at a point some 180 kilometers east-northeast of Cape Erimo in Hokkaido, according to the ministry.
The 10 ships passed through the Tsugaru Strait from Thursday night to early Friday, heading for the Sea of Japan. It appears that they did not intruded into Japanese territorial waters.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]