Sakhalin (Сахалин) is an island in the Russian Far East, north of Hokkaido. It has a population of nearly 600,000, and the people there include Russians, Ukrainians, Koreans, Japanese, and Ainu. The island is a part of Sakhalinskaya Oblast' (Сахалинская область), which also includes the Kuril Islands. The capital is Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Южно-Сахалинск).
The island was a part of Japan during the early 20th century until World War II, during which it was called Karafuto (樺太) in Japanese. Most of the 500,000 Japanese were deported after the war's end but some of the descendants of the deportees have started returing to Sakhalin, as late as the 21st century.
The Shootdown of KAL 007
On Sept. 1, 1983, Korean Airlines Flight 007, carrying 269 passengers and crew, including Cong. Larry McDonald, was shot down by the Soviets just after it had entered international waters having crossed over Sakhalin Island. It was from Sakhalin's air bases of the Soviet Air Defence forces that the shootdown of KAL 007 was ordered and the missions to Moneron ordered. These airbases were Smirnykh, Dolinsk-Sokol, and Khomutovo.
General Anatoly Kornukov, Commander Sokol Air Base, (to Military District Headquarters-Gen. Kamenski): (5:47) "...simply destroy [it] even if it is over neutral waters? Are the orders to destroy it over neutral waters? Oh, well." Kamenski: We must find out, maybe it is some civilian craft or God knows who." Kornukov: "What civilian? [It] has flown over Kamchatka! It [came] from the ocean without identification. I am giving the order to attack if it crosses the State border."
18:21-22 - Kornukov: "Gerasimenko, cut the horesplay at the command post, what is that noise there? I repeat the combat task: fire missiles, fire on target 60-65."
Kornukov: "Comply and get Tarasov here. Take control of the Mig-23 from Smirnykh, call sign 163, call sign 163, he is behind the target at the moment. Destroy the target!"
Gerasimenko: "Task received. Destroy target 60-65 with missile fire, accept control of fighter from Smirnykh"
Kornukov: "Carry out the task, destroy [it]!"
"Lt. Col. Novoseletski: So, the task. They say it has violated the State border again now? Titovnin: Well, it is the area of Moneron, of course, over our territory. Novoseletski: Get it! Get it! Go ahead bring in the MiG 23."
Lt. Col. Novoseltski,Acting Chief of Staff, Smirnykh Air Base, (18:47): Prepare whatever helicopters there are. Rescue helicopters. Lt. Col. Titovnin: Rescue? Novoseltski: Yes...Novoaleksandrovska must be brought to readiness and Khomutovo...the border guards and KGB are at Khomutovo.
Gen. Strogov, Deputy Commander for the Far East Military District (18:55): "The border guards. What ships do we now have near Moneron Island, if they are civilians, send [them] there immediately.".