Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed the fact that deployment of the Iskander-M ballistic missile launchers in the Kaliningrad Oblast is of permanent character. This constitutes a response to the steps taken by NATO, above all it refers the land-based component of the US European missile defence system, in a form of the base which is being built in Redzikowo, Poland. According to the Russians, the said base has a detrimental impact on the balance of power in the region, along with the “significant NATO forces” stationed in Poland and the Baltic states.
“These missiles are targeted mainly against the missile defence infrastructure which disturbs the balance [of power in the region] and which is going to be implemented in the nearest future” - as it was stated by Vladimir Shamanov, chief of the Defence Committee of the Russian State Duma, in his interview during the “Viesti v sobote” programme the broadcast of which is provided by the Russian RTR station. Shamanov also stressed the fact that Iskander missiles are a highly precise weapons system, while deployment of the missiles in Kaliningrad constitutes a “response to the steps taken by NATO”. Last Monday, the Russians claimed that dislocation is only an element of training exercise undertaken by the units of the Western Military District. Now, the official stance suggests that Iskanders became a deterrence measure.
Sergey Lavrov made some statements which are going even further, claiming that “contrary to the United States of America, we have deployed the launchers within our own territory”. Lavrov also stressed the fact that the Americans expand the financial support for deployment of the military assets close to the Russian border - “Soon, the American jets, the F-35 I presume, which are the latest aircraft used by the United States, are going to be equipped with modern version of nuclear bombs.They are going to be deployed close to the Russian border.By no means within the territory of the United States – as Lavrov claims.
Lavrov does not seem to have his argument limited by the fact that the F-35 fighter is not going to be deployed to Europe within the upcoming few years, or anytime soon, while modernization of the B-61 nuclear bombs has just begun. On the other hand, Russian Iskander missiles were deployed in Kaliningrad last week, and they have Berlin, among other significant cities, placed well within their range.
Not only do the Russian Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad pose a threat to the airbases in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia Estonia and Eastern Germany, but they may also be dangerous to the military infrastructures located within the whole territory of Czech Republic and Slovakia. Moreover, the Russian assets are also a relevant threat to any NATO Forces deployed within Central Europe. Should the cruise variety of the Iskander missile be utilized, the weapon also creates a danger for the units in the Western and Southern parts of Europe.
The range of the Ballistic Iskander missiles is estimated to be close to 500 – 700 kilometres. Besides that, the system also utilizes cruise missiles, capable of striking targets at distances of up to 2 thousand kilometres. Deployment of the Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad and Crimea has Europe surrounded by “ballistic scissors”, and hence, both extremities of the NATO Eastern Flank are in danger. One should also remember that the Iskander-M missiles, as well as the cruise missiles of this system, are both capable of carrying nuclear warheads.