Russia Threatens Japan With 'Retaliatory Measures' Over U.S. Naval Exercise

Russia has warned Japan it will face "retaliatory measures" if the Asian country allows an expansion of U.S. and Japanese naval exercises near Russian borders, as tensions rise between Moscow, Tokyo and Washington amid the Ukraine war.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov made the ominous comments in response to a Nikkei Asia report on Sunday that said U.S. treaty ally Japan was planning to hold its largest ever drills with U.S. Marine Corp this fall, an exercise expected to involve more than 4,000 military personnel.

The move comes as Washington manages fraught relations with Moscow and Beijing, over issues including the invasion of Ukraine and Taiwan's increasingly hard line on China. Japan and the U.S. have both placed tough sanctions on Moscow for its role in the conflict.

"We see such actions by the Japanese side as a threat to the security of our country. We directly warn Tokyo about this through diplomatic channels," Morgulov told Russia's state-owned newswire RIA Novosti on Tuesday. "They should be prepared for the fact that if such practices expand, Russia will take retaliatory measures in the interests of strengthening its defense capabilities."

He said that the joint military excercsies prompted "an increase in tensions."

Newsweek contacted the Japanese Embassy in Washington for comment.

According to Nikkei Asia, the planned exercise between the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Marines—called "Resolute Dragon"—is set to take place in September and October. The first such drills, which are intended to strengthen coordination with the U.S. Marines' advanced base operations, were held last December.

Earlier this month, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers JS Kongo and JS Inazuma joined the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group for joint military drills in the Sea of Japan, East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the Western Pacific.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, there have been 10 drills of this nature by Japan and allied forces.

On April 14, Moscow announced it had test-fired advanced nuclear-capable Kalibr cruise missiles from two Russian Navy submarines in the Sea of Japan, also posting video footage of the weapons tests. A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Tokyo had conveyed its concern about the drill through diplomatic channels, Japan's Jiji Press reported. The Kalibr missile has a range of about 1,500 miles.

Russia is now openly speculating about World War III for the first time since the military campaign against its neighbor began. In an interview with Russia's Channel One, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said there was a "serious" risk of a third world war, as he accused NATO of waging a proxy conflict with Moscow.

Update 04/26/22 at 11:10 a.m. ET. This article was updated to include further information.

Japanese/U.S. Navy excercise
Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force's Murasame destroyer is seen from the bridge of British Royal Navy HMS Montrose frigate during a joint exercise with U.S. Navy on March 15, 2019 on the Pacific Ocean near Tokyo, Japan. Russia has warned Japan it will face “retaliatory measures” if the Asian country allows an expansion of U.S. and Japanese naval exercises near Russian borders. Tomohiro Ohsumi