Russia Threatens Japan Of Dire Consequences, Punitive Actions If Patriot Missiles End-Up In Ukraine

The new Russian ambassador to Japan lambasted the country amid reports that Tokyo could soon send its Patriot missiles to the US, which will then be redirected to Ukraine.

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Nikolai Nozdrev, who has recently been appointed Russia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan, threatened Tokyo with dire consequences and punitive action if Patriot missile systems made in Japan under license from the United States ended up in Ukraine. He was speaking at his first interview as ambassador in Tokyo.

Nozdrev warned that Moscow would be keeping a watchful eye on the destination of Japanese arms exports after Tokyo relaxed export regulations late last year. He stated Russia will be looking out for any potential shipment of Patriot missile complexes and missiles manufactured in Japan under license from the United States to Ukraine via the US.

“Accordingly, we will be observing to make sure that the Patriots delivered do not end up in Ukraine, because if that happens, there will be the most severe consequences for bilateral (Russia-Japan) relations, including our retaliatory steps,” RIA cited the ambassador as saying.

He said it was too soon to discuss specific actions at this time, but they were being worked out. He also mentioned that “we hypothetically consider such a situation is a normal part of any foreign policy and defense planning.”

He further told the Russian publication, “In the situation with Patriot supplies, it is obvious that all these decisions were taken very quickly, if not in a hurry, to carry out a specific task.

This decision allows the Americans, in a sense, to take control of the weapons available to the Japanese side and dispose of them at their discretion. Accordingly, we will carefully watch that the Patriots do not end up in Ukraine because if this happens, there will be the most severe consequences for bilateral relations, including our retaliatory steps.”

Japan has reportedly decided to send Patriot missile systems and missiles made in Japan under a US license after approving the relaxation of regulations governing the export of defense equipment made under license to the licensee nation at the end of December 2023.

News agencies in Japan announced on December 20 last year that the government had chosen to send Patriot ground-based interceptor missiles to the US on an informal basis. These Patriot ground-based interceptor missiles are produced in Japan under license from ally United States.

Earlier, Japan could only export parts to the US that were manufactured under a US license but after easing export restrictions, Japan would be allowed to export complete hardware to foreign countries.

However, if the US were to transfer these missiles to Ukraine, it would need an official nod from Japan. This might explain why the Russian ambassador assertively told Tokyo to refrain from sending the missiles to Ukraine.

The warning also comes at a time when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has intensified the pitch for more air defense systems in the wake of a massive aerial strike carried out on March 21 and March 22. Zelensky said Ukraine does not have enough air defense systems to protect the country’s entire territory from Russian attacks.

“Patriot systems must protect Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia; air defense is required to protect people, infrastructure, homes, and dams. Our partners know exactly what is needed. They can support us. These are necessary decisions. Life must be protected from these savages from Moscow,” he said about the large-scale overnight strikes.

The United States has promised to provide Ukraine with air defense systems and artillery ammunition to repel a Russian invasion, but American armament manufacturers are finding it difficult to meet the demand. There is concern in Washington that its stocks of missiles and ammunition are drying up as it caters to Ukraine in the protracted war.

Russia has been admonishing the Japanese government ever since Japan indicated that it would assist the US in sending Patriot missiles to Ukraine.

However, none of these strongly worded warnings have deterred Japan, which has embarked on the journey to come through for its most important ally, the United States. The two allies are also reportedly working on a deal.

Japan Will Help The US To Assist Ukraine

The US and Japan have kicked off talks to work together to provide greater military support for Ukraine, which has recently lost some territory to Moscow.

The US and Japan are discussing cooperation on military hardware to arm Ukraine and figure out how to keep US fighter jets and warships in the Indo-Pacific area.

Some official sources told local media that the two allies were trying to devise a plan ahead of President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s meeting in Washington on April 10. The primary goal of the summit was likely to be to increase Japanese backing for US stockpiles.

Japan’s interest in providing military support to Ukraine has been tempered since the conflict started in February 2022. In May 2023, Japan promised to provide 100 military vehicles to Ukraine, hoping to make aid more effective than helmets and hazardous materials that had previously been sent.

Patriot AD System

However, until now, it has refrained from supplying arms to Ukraine to avoid military escalation with Russia and to avoid offsetting diplomatic relations with the country. Russia and Japan have a long-standing territorial dispute that the latter has been less than willing to stir up.

Also, there has been a perception in Japan that given the growing security threats from China, North Korea, and Russia, sending missiles of a crucial air defense system might not augur well for its own security and defense needs.

Nevertheless, Tokyo assesses that the situation may not be completely against it. In the short term, easing Tokyo’s limitations on military exports would facilitate the US and European countries supplying weapons to Ukraine.

However, in the long run, it is expected to create more opportunities for Japan to sell weapons elsewhere, which might make the offer more lucrative for Tokyo.