Russia to send navy vessels to disputed Pacific islands

MOSCOW - Russia will send two navy vessels to the disputed Kuril islands in the Pacific, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday, in a move likely to anger Japan which lays claim to them.
The dispute has strained relations between the two countries since World War Two, when Soviet forces occupied the four islands at the southern end of the Kuril chain.
Japan says the islands are part of its territory and wants Moscow to hand them over.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the large landing ship Admiral Nevelskoi and the tugboat Kalar will visit three of the four islands to take part in ceremonies honoring Soviet sailors who died there at the end of World War Two.