In August 2021, Russia was quite seriously preparing for a localized military conflict with Japan, an FSB agent wrote in an email shared with Newsweek..
Russia was preparing to attack Japan in the summer of 2021, months before President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, an email featuring a letter from a whistleblower at Russias Federal Security Service (FSB), shared with Newsweek, reveals.
The email, dated March 17, was sent by the agent, dubbed the Wind of Change, to Vladimir Osechkin, a Russian human-rights activist who runs the anti-corruption website Gulagu.net, and is now exiled in France.
The FSB agent writes regular dispatches to Osechkin, revealing the anger and discontent inside the service over the war that began when Putin invaded neighboring Ukraine on February 24.
Igor Sushko, the executive director of the Wind of Change Research Group, a Washington-based non-profit organization, has been translating the correspondence from Russian to English since it began on March 4. He has shared all the emails in full to Newsweek, including the March 17 brief.
A letter authored by the whistleblower, and published by Osechkin, has been analyzed by Christo Grozev, an expert on the FSB. He said he had shown the letter "to two actual (current or former) FSB contacts" who had "no doubt it was written by a colleague."
"Confidence that the countries would enter the stage of acute confrontation and even war was high. Why Ukraine was chosen for war in the end [the scenario was not changed much] is for others to answer," they wrote.
The whistleblower detailed movements of electronic warfare helicopters targeting Japan, while Russias propaganda machine was also initiated, with a huge push to label Japanese as "Nazis" and "fascists."
A peace treaty formally ending World War II has never been signed by Russia and Japan, largely because of disputes over a group of islands claimed by Japan, but occupied by Russia.
The Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan and Habomai islands of the Kuril Island chain were seized by the USSR at the end of World War II. Tokyo claims the islands as its "Northern Territories" and the issue has strained relations between Russia and Japan for decades.
Because of their location between the large Japanese island of Hokkaido and Russias Kamchatka Peninsula, the islands offer a number of military and political benefits.
"For Japan, there is a cornerstone of its modern geopolitics here: its status as a World War II loser still prevents the Japanese from having an official military force, a foreign intelligence service and a number of other things. For the Land of the Rising Sun, the return of the Kuril Islands would actually mean a revision [or even cancellation] of its postwar status," they wrote.