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Editor’s Note: This piece by features quotes from CSP Senior Fellow, Grant Newsham.

A Russian diplomat warned this month of unspecific retaliatory measures against the United States and Japan, should alliance activities threaten the country’s Far East.

“We are closely monitoring the intensification of Japanese American maneuvers, including with the involvement of external actors, near our Far Eastern borders,” Amb. Nikolay Nozdrev told Russia’s Sputnik news agency. “We regularly warn Tokyo that, if such activity continues, we will be forced to take countersteps in order to block military threats to Russia,” Nozdrev said, without elaborating.

The two neighbors are in a dispute over a Russia-controlled archipelago in the Northern Pacific—called the Kuril Islands by the former and known as the Northern Territories by the latter—and have been unable to negotiate a peace treaty for decades.

Nozdrev speaks for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, whose threats against Japan should be taken seriously, said Grant Newsham, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel who used to train Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.

“Japanese leaders and officials have been very clear that they believe a Russian victory [in Ukraine] would encourage Chinese aggression toward Taiwan and elsewhere in East Asia—to include Japanese territory,” Newsham, the author of When China Attacks: A Warning to America, told Newsweek.

“Putin does not like any of this,” he added. “I doubt the Russians will resort to military means—though I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if they encouraged North Korea to ‘act up‘ and cause the Japanese some worries.”

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