March 12, 2019 began military exercises on the islands of Iturup and Kunashir. During the maneuvers, the motorized rifle units of the Eastern Military District (VVO) under the guise of the T-72B and BMP-2 tanks broke through the defenses of the conditional enemy and took advantageous positions. The fire support units had a rocket launcher and the calculations of 120-millimeter mortar complex "Sled." In total, about 500 servicemen take part in the exercises up to 70 units of equipment are involved.
It should be recalled that last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to start the negotiation process on signing a treaty on the basis of the 1956 Soviet-Japanese Declaration. It stipulates the probability of the transfer of two islands to Japan - Habomai and Shikotan.
It should be noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his traditional message to the Federal Assembly, declared on February 20, 2019, that Russia intends to develop political dialogue and economic relations with Japan. And on March 12, 2019, the media, citing sources in the administration of the Russian leader V. Putin, reported that Moscow has no plans to transfer the Kuril Islands to Japan. Russia believes that the conditions put forward by the Russian side are unacceptable for Tokyo, and Japan will not accept them. The Kremlin does not want to deny the transfer of the islands directly "for reasons of diplomacy."
Moreover, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarified that Russia puts forward two conditions in the negotiations. The first is the conclusion of a peace treaty on the basis of the 1956 declaration, which implies Japan’s recognition of the results of the Second World War, as well as the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over all the Kuril Islands, including the islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge. According to the second condition, Japan must guarantee non-deployment on the islands in the event of their transfer to US military bases.
The Russian media holding RBC notes the extremely low probability of signing any agreements on the Kuril Islands between the Russian and Japanese leaders at the G-20 summit in Osaka (Japan) in June 2019.
Experts in general do not expect any progress in this area until 2021, when the term of Abe’s premiership expires. Especially considering that the fact that on February 19, 2019 it became known that 96% of the residents of the Kuriles opposed the transfer of the southern islands of Japan.