MOSCOW – Moscow test-fired anti-ship missiles in the Sea of Japan, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday, with two boats launching a simulated missile attack on a mock enemy warship about 100 kilometers (60 miles) away.
The ministry said the target was successfully hit by two Moskit cruise missiles.
The Moskit, whose NATO reporting name is the SS-N-22 Sunburn, is a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile that has conventional and nuclear warhead capacity. The Soviet-built cruise missile is capable of flying at a speed three times the speed of sound and has a range of up to 250 kilometers (155 miles).
The ministry said the exercise, which included other warships and naval aircraft, took place in the Peter the Great Gulf in the Sea of Japan but did not give more precise coordinates. The gulf borders the Russian Pacific Fleet headquarters at Fokino and is about 700 kilometers (430 miles) from Japan's northern Hokkaido island.
The Russian military has conducted regular drills across the country and Russian warships have continued maneuvers as the fighting in Ukraine has entered a second year — exercises that were intended to train the troops and showcase the country's military capability.
The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Japan reacted calmly to the missile exercise, which was conducted near Vladivostok, rather than directly into the waters between the two countries.
Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki told a news conference later Tuesday that Tokyo will continue to monitor Russia’s military operations, as it has been stepping up activity in the region.
Tokyo does not plan to lodge a protest to Russia over the missile exercise, said Tasuku Matsuki, Japanese Foreign Ministry official in charge of Russia, noting that its location — Peter the Great Bay — is considered Russian coast, though it is facing the water between the two countries.
“On the whole, Japan is concerned about Russia’s increasing military activities around the Japanese coasts and watching them with great interest,” Matsuki said.
He added that Russia has conducted missile drills in that area in the past and issued maritime advisories ahead of time.
Russian nuclear-capable Tu-95 bombers flew over the Sea of Japan for several hours last week.
In September, Japan protested multinational military exercises on the Russian-held Kuril Islands — some of which are claimed by Japan — and expressed concern about Russian and Chinese warships conducting shooting drills in the Sea of Japan.
Russia also tested submarine-launched missiles in the Sea of Japan last year.
AP writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed from Tokyo.