Invasion of the Kuril Islands

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.

Invasion of the Kuril Islands
Part of the Soviet–Japanese War of World War II

Map of the invasion of the Kuril Islands
Date18 August–1 September 1945
Result Soviet victory
Kuril Islands annexed to the Soviet Union
 Soviet Union  Japan
Commanders and leaders
Alexander Ksenofontov
Alexey Gnechko
Dmitry Ponomarev
Tsutsumi Fusaki 
15,000 troops 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

Order of battle

Soviet Union
Imperial Japan


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


  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. Glantz, David. August Storm: The Soviet 1945 Strategic Offensive in Manchuria. Portland, Oregon: FRANK CASS PUBLISHERS. pp. 299–300.
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