“Japan’s undermining of Russian sovereignty not tolerated” – Medvedev

Japan's attempts to undermine the Russian sovereignty of the disputed Kuril Islands will not be tolerated, said President Dmitry Medvedev as he accepted the credentials of newly-appointed ambassadors in Moscow.

Blessed with a unique ecosystem, the Kuril Islands became part of Russia following an agreement reached at the Yalta Conference – the second of the two key WWII international conferences.

Tokyo refused to both recognize the Yalta Conference decision and sign a peace agreement with Moscow ever since.

Throughout the years Kuril Islands shifted from the focal point of Russian-Japanese relations to a background issue and back again, essentially remaining the most popularized Russian territorial dispute.

The year of 2009 has somewhat revived the issue and might well see a new twist in the islands’ fate. In late April a high-ranking Japanese official suggested Russia and Japan divide up the Kurils, infuriating his country’s authorities.

During his visit to Tokyo in May, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin agreed to have the Kuril issue discussed at the upcoming G8 summit in Italy on July 8-10, where Russia will be represented by President Dmitry Medvedev.

Evidently not everyone in Japan was content to wait till July. Speaking at the parliament Japan’s Prime Minister on May 21, Taro Aso referred to the Southern Kurils as “illegally occupied territories”.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has already reacted to Aso’s statement and now President Medvedev said he hopes Japan will carefully consider its actions.

“We can't leave unnoticed some recent attempts by our Japanese partners questioning the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over the Kuril Islands. Using unilateral means that fall beyond the scope of the legal framework is unacceptable. Of course, such actions don't contribute to holding further negotiations. That's something that needs to be taken into consideration. I hope that Tokyo will adequately evaluate the current situation and draw the correct conclusions from it,” Medvedev said.