Russia is boosting its military presence in its Far East region in response to rising tensions there, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday.
Russia’s defense ministry website quoted Shoigu as saying that Russia is sending reinforcements to its Far East because of growing tensions in the “eastern strategic direction,” Reuters reported on Thursday.
Russia’s Far East shares significant borders on all sides: with China and North Korea to the south, with Japan via maritime border to the southeast, and with the U.S. via maritime border to the northeast.
Shoigu did not disclose what the new regional threats were, or where specifically the additional troops would be assigned. He said the defense ministry would provide “500 units of new and modernized equipment” for the Far East in addition to “some improvements to the [Russian] Navy’s Northern Fleet,” according to the report.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on the Far East troop buildup, loosely implying that powers outside the region had taken certain actions to cause concern for Russia. Like Shoigu, he did not specify any specific countries or conflicts.
“All of these [alleged actions by foreign powers], of course, do not contribute to stability in this region,” Peskov said, as quoted by Reuters.
In recent weeks, Russia’s Far East has been the site of “one of the longest sustained anti-government protest movements of [Russian] President Vladimir Putin’s two decades in power,” according to the report.
On August 8, thousands of people gathered in the major Far East city of Khabarovsk, near the Chinese border, to protest the arrest of the region’s governor, Sergei Furgal, on July 9 on suspicion of involvement in several murders. Following his arrest, Furgal was immediately flown to Moscow by Kremlin authorities. Khabarovsk residents have regularly protested the charges against Furgal since then, demanding Furgal be returned to the Far East region for trial.