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Russia warns Japan against supplying Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Japan’s decision to supply Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine will have “serious consequences” for Russian-Japanese relations, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said. Maria Zakharova said Wednesday.

Relations between Moscow and Tokyo, already difficult, have deteriorated sharply since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine in February 2022. Japan joined its Western allies in imposing sweeping economic sanctions on the Russia.

Last week, Japan announced it would prepare to ship Patriot air defense missiles to the United States after revising its arms export guidelines, in the first major review of such restrictions exported by Tokyo in nine years.

Although Japan’s new export controls still prevent it from shipping weapons to countries at war, they could indirectly benefit Ukraine in its war against Russia because they give the United States a capacity additional to provide military aid to Kiev.

“The Japanese side is losing control of weapons with which Washington can now do whatever it wants,” Zakharova said at a weekly press briefing. “We cannot exclude that, as part of an already tested program, Patriot missiles end up in Ukraine.”

Such a scenario would be “interpreted as a clearly hostile action against Russia and would lead to serious consequences for Japan in the context of bilateral relations,” she said.

Earlier this month, Japan and South Korea both dispatched planes to monitor joint flights of Chinese and Russian bombers and fighters near their territories.

Russia and Japan have yet to conclude a treaty formally ending World War II hostilities due to a long-standing territorial dispute involving a chain of Pacific islands known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia under the name of Southern Kurils.

Even before the conflict in Ukraine, Tokyo had complained about increased Russian military deployments on islands that the Soviet Union conquered from Japan at the end of World War II.

(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov; writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Gareth Jones)

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