Putting disputes aside, Russia gears up to help quake-rocked Japan

This aerial shot shows boats being carried away at a flooded marina in Hitachinaka city in Ibaraki prefecture on March 11, 2011 after a tsunami hit following an earthquake
President Dmitry Medvedev ordered Russia’s Emergencies Ministry to gear up to assist Japan in dealing with the aftermath of the major earthquake and tsunami that pounded the Asian country.

Russia’s Emergency Ministry has six jets which are ready to transport rescuers, doctors and medical equipment, including a mobile hospital, to Japan. These jets have been on a stand-by since Friday on the personal order of Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev.

Medvedev was speaking at a Friday session of the State Council dedicated to the development of Russia’s energy industry. When news of the Japanese earthquake broke, the leader of the Russian state said that his nation was ready to help its neighbors and that a state of emergency had already been declared. Medvedev ordered all agencies to deal with the possible consequences on Russian territory as well.

"Of course, we are ready to help our neighbors in overcoming the effects of this severe earthquake. A state of emergency has also been declared on [Russian] soil, on the Kuril Islands, in the Sakhalin Region, where all necessary measures must also be taken to prevent damage and loss of life. The tsunami has already reached our shores as well, and we must all be consolidated at this time. I'm now ordering the Emergencies Minister to present a plan of assistance to Japan,” the president said.

The Emergencies Ministry reported it that was ready to carry out the presidential order. "

Should Tokyo appeal, including via the United Nations, Russia will be ready to provide the necessary humanitarian aid to Japan,

" Russian news agency Interfax quoted the Emergencies Ministry source as saying on Friday.

Friday’s earthquake is the biggest to hit Japan in 140 years, unleashing a 10-meter high tsunami that barreled through the country’s Pacific coast. The disaster killed at least 40 people and washed away hundreds of buildings and structures.

Dmitry Medvedev’s offer of help came during the period of strained relations between Moscow and Tokyo, caused by a long-lasting dispute over several islands in Russia’s Far East.

Japan lost the islands, the Kurils, to Russia after the Second World War, but ambiguities in the treaty allowed Japan to claim that the four islands in the archipelago as its territory. Since Russia said that the results of the post-war agreements must not be revised, the two countries have not signed a peace treaty to this day.

Russia’s president paid a visit to the Kurils at the end of October and the move sparked official protest in Japan along with a number of public rallies. Russia responded by announcing plans to boost its military presence in the region.