Russia Is Fielding Nuclear-Capable Missiles in Territory Bordering NATO

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Dec. 17, 2013, 6:02 a.m.

Rus­sia on Monday re­vealed it had sent bal­list­ic mis­siles to ter­rit­ory that bor­ders sev­er­al NATO na­tions, all of which have voiced alarm over the de­ploy­ment.

Nuc­le­ar-cap­able Iskander mis­siles are be­ing fielded in the Ka­lin­in­grad re­gion — a Rus­si­an ex­clave that bor­ders NATO mem­ber states Po­land and Lithuania, the Rus­si­an De­fense Min­istry dis­closed. The non­stra­tegic mis­siles have top ranges of between 250 and 310 miles, ac­cord­ing to vari­ous me­dia re­ports.

It is not presently known if the mis­siles fielded in the Ka­lin­in­grad are equipped with nuc­le­ar or con­ven­tion­al war­heads. It is also not clear how long they have been de­ployed or what caused Mo­scow to dis­cuss their field­ing, the New York Times re­por­ted

“Iskander rock­et com­plexes are in­deed stand­ing armed with the rock­et and ar­til­lery di­vi­sions in the West­ern Mil­it­ary Dis­trict,” a re­gion that en­com­passes Ka­lin­in­grad, min­istry spokes­man Ig­or Konashen­kov said.

An an­onym­ous high-rank­ing Rus­si­an army of­fi­cial told Izves­tia the mis­siles had been fielded in the area for more than a year.

Mo­scow has warned for a while that it could de­ploy Iskander mis­siles to the Ka­lin­in­grad re­gion in re­sponse to NATO’s on­go­ing ef­forts to con­struct an al­li­ance-wide bal­list­ic mis­sile shield.

Rus­sia has par­tic­u­larly op­posed a U.S. ini­ti­at­ive to field by about 2018 next-gen­er­a­tion mis­sile in­ter­cept­ors in Po­land. Wash­ing­ton main­tains that the in­ter­cept­ors will be fo­cused on coun­ter­ing po­ten­tial me­di­um-range mis­sile as­saults from Ir­an. Rus­sia has called for — to no avail thus far — leg­ally bind­ing as­sur­ances that the U.S. in­ter­cept­ors will nev­er be aimed against its own stra­tegic mis­siles.

U.S. De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel in a Monday video-con­fer­ence with his Rus­si­an op­pos­ite, Sergei Shoigu, said that Wash­ing­ton and NATO would con­tin­ue to de­vel­op the mis­sile shield re­gard­less of re­cent head­way made in resolv­ing long­stand­ing in­ter­na­tion­al con­cerns about Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar cap­ab­il­it­ies, the Xin­hua News Agency re­por­ted.

The Pol­ish De­fense Min­istry said the Iskander de­ploy­ment was “dis­turb­ing” and could lead to “con­sulta­tions and ac­tion … at the NATO and EU level,” Agence France-Presse re­por­ted. Fel­low NATO coun­tries Es­to­nia, Latvia, Lithuania and the United States also have voiced wor­ries about the mis­siles.

“We’ve shared with Rus­sia the con­cerns that coun­tries in the neigh­bor­hood have” re­gard­ing the Iskander de­ploy­ment, U.S. State De­part­ment spokes­wo­man Mar­ie Harf was quoted by the Wall Street Journ­al as say­ing. “We’ve urged Mo­scow to take no steps to destabil­ize the re­gion.”

Latvi­an De­fense Min­is­ter Artis Pab­riks said the mis­siles do “not change the bal­ance of power between NATO and Rus­sia, but it changes bal­ance of power in the re­gion. It threatens sev­er­al Balt­ic cit­ies,” he con­tin­ued in re­marks re­por­ted by AFP.

This art­icle was pub­lished in Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire, which is pro­duced in­de­pend­ently by Na­tion­al Journ­al Group un­der con­tract with the Nuc­le­ar Threat Ini­ti­at­ive. NTI is a non­profit, non­par­tis­an group work­ing to re­duce glob­al threats from nuc­le­ar, bio­lo­gic­al, and chem­ic­al weapons.

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