Defence Minister sees Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad as alarming news

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BNS

Iskander M missiles test launch | Photo credit: Asitimes, Foter.com, CC BY

Iskander M missiles test launch | Photo credit: Asitimes, Foter.com, CC BY

Lithuania’s Defence Minister Juozas Olekas says he has no reports about Russia’s deployment of short-range missiles ‘Iskander-M’ in Russia’s Kaliningrad region close to the Lithuanian border, however, describes the situation as alarming.

“This is alarming additional news about the presence of Russian missile systems in Kaliningrad region, as Russia, on a few occasions, has mentioned them being in need of modernisation,” the Lithuanian minister told journalists at the Seimas on Monday.

“The new level of modernisation in Kaliningrad region close to the borders of the Baltic States and NATO causes additional alarm and attention; therefore, we are keeping an eye on the situation. We are talking to regional and NATO partners on how we should respond and defend ourselves, if there were any hypothetical incidents. At the moment, I cannot confirm or deny presence of Iskander there,” Olekas continued.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said on Monday he had been informed of the buildup of additional weaponry near the border with the Baltic States.

“I have information about the build-up of certain additional equipment near Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. But today I would not want to reveal certain things and comment on them. I have this information and I even talked with some people about this yesterday,” Butkevičius told journalists, adding that he would have additional information on Tuesday.

Citing sources at the Russian Security Service, Germany’s daily ‘Bild’ reported about Russia’s deployment of short-range missiles ‘Iskander-M’ close to the Kaliningrad border with Lithuania. Satellite photographs show that Russia has placed a “two-digit” number of Iskander-type mobile missile systems in Kaliningrad close to its western border with Lithuania over the past 12 months, the daily said.

Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas | Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania, Photo by Alfredas Pliadis

Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas | Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania, Photo by Alfredas Pliadis

Iskander missile systems can be equipped with conventional or nuclear warheads and reach target of up to 500 km.

S-400 missile systems have already been deployed in Kaliningrad. Moscow said earlier that Russia would deploy Iskander-type missiles near the border with Poland and Lithuania, if NATO failed to take into account Russia’s concern over the deployment of elements of the anti-missile defence in Eastern Europe.

Lithuania, Poland and NATO have criticised Russia’s plans numerous times. The Alliance says the anti-missile shield is not directed against Russia and is being built for the purpose of defence against hostile nations like Iran.

Based on Russian media reports, Russia had planned to deploy Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad back in 2012. There were also reports that commanders of Russia’s Navy approved in early 2012 the establishment of a special unit to service the missile systems in the Russian enclave, wedged between EU members Poland and Lithuania.

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