Russia has deployed advanced nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to its Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea, the RIA news agency quoted a senior lawmaker as saying on Monday, Feb. 5.
Russia has said previous deployments of Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a slice of Russia wedged between Poland and Lithuania, were temporary and a response to the United States building up its forces in the Baltic region, Reuters reported.
Russia confirms it sent Iskander nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad after Lithuania announced the deploymenthttps://t.co/HIROu0TCls
— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) February 5, 2018
Washington says placing such missile systems near the Baltic states and NATO member Poland is “destabilizing,” while U.S. officials have expressed concern that the deployments represent a permanent upgrade to Russia’s forces in the area.
Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said that Russia intends to keep the missiles there permanently, ERR reported.
“On Monday, Iskander missiles are being stationed in Kaliningrad for permanent presence as we speak,” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said in Rukla. “This is not just a threat to Lithuania, but to half of all European countries.”
She said that Russia had transported nuclear-capable missiles to the Kaliningrad region, located between Poland and Lithuania, for drills. This time, it’s permanent, the minister said.
“It is permanent stationing with all the necessary infrastructure in place,” Grybauskaitė said.
Lithuania accuses Russia of deploying nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad (between Poland and Lithuania). Russia sent them there for drills in 2016, but Lithuanian President Grybauskaite says this time they were being deployed for a 'permanent presence'. @AFP pic.twitter.com/lXJDY7fTb1
— Dmitry Zaks (@dmitryzaksAFP) February 5, 2018
Vladimir Shamanov, head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s defense committee, said on Monday that Iskander missile systems had been sent to Kaliningrad, but did not say how many or for how long, RIA reported.
“Yes, they have been deployed,” it quoted him as saying. “The deployment of foreign military infrastructure automatically falls onto the priority list for targeting.”
The Iskander, a mobile ballistic missile system codenamed SS-26 Stone by NATO, replaced the Soviet Scud missile. Its two guided missiles have a range of up to 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) and can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads.
According to military website Janes.com, Russia will also deploy Su-27SM3 fighter planes to the regime, and, eventually, it will deploy the latest version of the Su-35 fighter.
Last week, the United States dispatched the anti-submarine P-8A Poseidon from RAF Mildenhall, in Suffolk, U.K., in the Baltic Sea just hours after a Russian jet came within five feet of a U.S. Navy plane, The Sun reported.
Launched from RAF Mildenhall – Eastern Poland & Baltic mission
?? US Air Force
RC-135W Rivet Joint
62-4134 AURIS30 pic.twitter.com/IYWvdNMO0f
— Aircraft Spots (@AircraftSpots) January 30, 2018
Reuters contributed to this report.