Staunton, January 30 – Were a naval conflict to break out between Russia and Japan over the Kuriles and were it to remain non-nuclear, Japan would have clear advantages in military equipment and could inflict a defeat on Moscow much as that country did to the Russian Empire in 1905, according to Col. Gen. Anatoly Zaytsev, a leading Russian military analyst.
In an essay in the current issue of Voyenno-Promyshlenny kuryer, he points out that relative to its size, Japan ranks fifth in the world in military spending and has doubled that over the last decade, an indication that Tokyo does not intend to be outclassed in that regard and has not given up on plans for a land empire in Asia (vpk-news.ru/articles/47943).
Except for its lack of nuclear weapons, something some in Japan hope to remedy in the future, Tokyo has significant advantages over Russia in both air and sea weaponry and could if it decided to try to take the Kuriles by force, inflict serious losses on Russian forces and quite possibly succeed in doing so, the senior Russian military analyst says.
Many dismiss Japan as an opponent because its army and navy have so few effectives and because its constitution specifies that the country cannot engage in anything but defensive action, Zaytsev says; but those who do forget that Japan could easily raise a military many times its current size and that the constitution could be modified or ignored almost at will.
The Japanese economy is geared to mobilize when required, and consequently, Tokyo could shift gears from more quickly than most countries. And consequently, Moscow should not be so quick to write off Japan as a threat or as a capable military opponent. It is very much a threat given Japanese values, and it is an increasingly competent opponent, he continues.
Zaytsev’s words, especially given where they appear, almost certainly are intended to cause the Kremlin to provide more funding for the Russian fleet and air forces in the Pacific region. But they also constitute an obvious recognition by a senior general that the Russian military is not all it is sometimes cracked up to be in what for Vladimir Putin is a critical sphere.