Drawing sharp condemnation from the Japanese government, Russia this week launched a series of military exercises on disputed islands north of Japan, which Russia has occupied since the end of World War II, reported Voice of America. Beginning on Aug. 12, more than 1,000 troops, along with attack helicopters and other military hardware, deployed to the Kurile Islands, according to the report, which cited Russian news wire Interfax. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe criticized the maneuvers on the following day, calling them "unacceptable," and Japan filed a diplomatic protest, reported Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency. The maneuvers are taking part on the islands of Kunashir and Iturup in the southern Kuriles, according to Russian reports. US officials have stated Russia has increased military maneuvers and activities on its Pacific coast since the spring, particularly air and naval activity in and around Japanese territory.
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