Invasion of the Kuril Islands

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Invasion of the Kuril Islands
Part of the Soviet–Japanese War of World War II
Sakhalin Kuril Operation.svg
Map of the invasion of the Kuril Islands
Date18 August–1 September 1945
Result Soviet victory
Kuril Islands annexed to the Soviet Union
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Japan
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg Alexander Ksenofontov
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg Alexey Gnechko
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg Dmitry Ponomarev
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg Tsutsumi Fusaki   White flag icon.svg
15,000 troops[ citation needed ] 80,000 troops [1]
Casualties and losses
at least 962 killed [2]
at least 1,026 wounded
at least 1,018 killed or wounded
50,422 surrendered[ citation needed ]

The Invasion of the Kuril Islands (Russian : Курильская десантная операция "Kuril Islands Landing Operation") was the World War II Soviet military operation to capture the Kuril Islands from Japan in 1945. The invasion was part of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, and was decided on when plans to land on Hokkaido were abandoned. The successful military operations of the Red Army at Mudanjiang and during the Invasion of South Sakhalin created the necessary prerequisites for invasion of the Kuril Islands.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a federal sovereign state in northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.


Order of battle

Soviet Union

The 2nd Far Eastern Front was a Front—a formation equivalent to a Western Army Group—of the Soviet Army. It was formed just prior to the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and was active from August 5, 1945, until October 1, 1945.

The 87th Rifle Corps was a rifle corps of the Red Army during World War II and the Soviet Army in the early years of the Cold War.

The 355th Rifle Division was a standard Red Army rifle division of World War II, formed twice.

Imperial Japan
Japanese Fifth Area Army

The Japanese Fifth Area Army was a field army of the Imperial Japanese Army during the closing stages of World War II. It saw combat against the Soviet Union in Japan’s northern territories.

Twenty-Seventh Army (Japan)

The Japanese 27th Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army during the final days of World War II.

The 91st Division was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call sign was the Future Division. It was created 12 April 1944 in Paramushir. The nucleus for the formation was the 1st Kuril Islands Garrison Group. It was an oversized type C(hei) security division, with its constituent brigades consisting of six infantry battalions each from July 1944. Highly unusually, the division had two artillery regiments.


The operation took place between August 18 and September 1. The attack was made by the 87th Rifle Corps (Guards Lieutenant General A. S. Ksenofontov) of the 16th Army (Lieutenant General L. G. Cheremisov) from the 2nd Far Eastern Front, and elements of the Kamchatka Defense Area (Major General Alexey Gnechko commanding). Ships and transportation were drawn from the Petropavlovsk military base (Captain Dmitry Grigorievich Ponomarev). The 128th Aviation Division also provided support.

The islands were occupied by the Japanese 91st Infantry Division (Shiashkotan, Paramushir, Shumshu, and Onekotan), 42nd Division (Shimushiro), 41st Independent Regiment (Matua Island), 129th Independent Brigade (Urup Island), and 89th Infantry Division (Iturup and Kunashiri). The Japanese commander was Lieutenant General Tsutsumi Fusaki.

Initial reconnaissance was undertaken on 18 August by a detachment of the 113th Separate Rifle Brigade (Captain-Lieutenant G. I. Brunshtein), carried by two mine trawlers (ТЩ-589 and ТЩ-590) to Rubetzu Bay on Iturup island. The landings on Iturup were continued by the 355th Rifle Division, which also landed on the smaller island of Urup.

On August 23, the 20,000-strong Japanese garrisons on the islands were ordered to surrender as part of the general surrender of Japan. However, some of the garrison forces ignored this order and continued to resist Soviet occupation. [3]

From 22 to 28 August, troops of the Kamchatka Defense Area occupied the Kuril Islands from Urup north.

On 1 September, elements of the 87th Rifle Corps were landed by torpedo boats, mine trawlers and transports (departing from Otomari) on Kunashir and Shikotan in the southern Kuril Islands. This was an assault landing against Japanese resistance. On 4 September, 87th Rifle Corps occupied five smaller islands (Sibotzu, Taraku-Shima, Uri-Shima, Akiuri, and Suiseto). [3]

After September 4, Soviet forces occupied the rest of the Kuril Islands without further resistance.

The islands remained part of Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however their true legal status remains in question as part of the Kuril Islands dispute between Russia, Japan, and other parties.

See also

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  1. Glantz, David. August Storm: The Soviet 1945 Strategic Offensive in Manchuria. Portland, Oregon: Frank Cass Publishers. p. 8.
  2. Our Kuriles and Japanese Claims p. 22, retrieved 6 April 2018
  3. 1 2 Glantz, David. August Storm: The Soviet 1945 Strategic Offensive in Manchuria. Portland, Oregon: FRANK CASS PUBLISHERS. pp. 299–300.