Russian defense ministry confirms deployment of Iskander missile systems to Kaliningrad
The Russian defense ministry confirmed on Saturday that it had moved Iskander-M missile systems to its Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.
The Russian military did not make a big secret of transporting Iskander missile systems onboard the bulk carrier Ambal to the Kaliningrad region. The operation had been intended to clarify the parameters of a U.S. reconnaissance satellite’s operations, Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
“Nobody made a big secret out of the system’s transport on board the bulker Ambal. I’ll tell you more: One Iskander was deliberately exposed even before being loaded onto the Ambal when a U.S. reconnaissance satellite was flying over to specify the parameters of this spacecraft’s operations,” the spokesman said.
“We didn't have to wait long: Our U.S. partners confirmed everything themselves with their whistle-blowing impulse,” he said.
The defense ministry spokesman dismissed Western concerns over the missile systems, saying that “Contingents of missile troops have been moved many times and will continue to be moved to the Kaliningrad region as part of a Russian armed forces training plan.”
Kaliningrad was “not an exception" to drills conducted across the country, he said.
ERR reported on Friday that Russia’s Baltic Fleet was moving Iskanders from Ust-Luga to Kaliningrad on a civilian vessel under the cover of a logistics training exercise. According to an unnamed source, the vessel used for shipping the missile system was the Ambal.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said on Saturday that Russia was deploying nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to its Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad in order to pressure the West into making concessions over Syria and Ukraine.
According to NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu, any deployment of nuclear-capable missiles close to the alliance’s borders wouldn’t help lower tensions.