Vladimir Putin was preparing to invade Japan in the summer of 2021, months before launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A member of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) leaked this information, US magazine Newsweek reported in a report.

The person leaked this information in an email sent to a Russian human rights activist named Vladimir Osechkin on March 17. Osechkin runs the anti-corruption website Gulagu.com and is currently in exile in France.

FSB agents sent regular messages to Osekkin. He expressed anger and discontent within the service over the war, which began on February 24 when Putin invaded neighboring Ukraine.

Igor Sushko, executive director of the Washington-based nonprofit Wind of Change Research Group, is translating the correspondence from Russian to English, which began on March 4. He sent them to News on March 17.

A letter written by an FSB agent was analyzed by an FSB expert, Christo Grozev. He said he showed the letter to ‘two actual (current or former) employees of the FSB. The writing style leaves no doubt that the letter was undoubtedly written by an FSB operative.

Why did Russia plan to attack Japan? The question may come now. The agent also gave some indication of this in the letter. He said that in August 2021, Russia was seriously preparing for a local military conflict with Japan. But Russia decided to invade Ukraine a few months later instead.

They also wrote, ‘Confidence that countries would enter a phase of intense conflict and even war was high. Why was Ukraine ultimately chosen for war? [প্রেক্ষাপটটি খুব বেশি পরিবর্তিত হয়নি] Others must answer.’

That is, the FSB staff could not tell the reason for the attack in Ukraine.

Here we have to look at Russia’s old relationship with Japan. A peace treaty was not formally signed by Russia and Japan after World War II. Mainly because of a dispute over a group of islands claimed by Japan that are held by Russia.

All of the Soviet Union occupied Kunashiri, Itorofu, Shikotan and Habomai Islands in the Kuril Islands of Japan at the end of World War II. Tokyo claims the islands as its ‘northern territory’ and the issue has strained relations between Russia and Japan for decades.

According to the FSB agent, a ‘major obstacle’ between Moscow and Tokyo is the Kuril Islands.

Due to its location between the large Japanese island of Hokkaido and Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, the islands offer a number of military and political advantages.

‘For Japan, here lies a cornerstone of its modern geopolitics,’ they wrote in the letter. Its status as the loser of World War II still prevents the Japanese from having an official military, a foreign intelligence service, and much more. For Moscow, on the other hand, the islands are a bargaining chip.’

(29 November)