NATO reactions: Nuclear-capable missiles close to alliance’s borders won’t help ease tensions (1)
NATO ministers and spokespeople called Russia's moving of nuclear-capable missiles to the exclave of Kaliningrad on Friday "very alarming". Any deployment of nuclear-capable missiles close to NATO's borders wouldn’t help lower tensions, alliance spokesperson Oana Lungescu said on Twitter on Saturday.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius had said earlier 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.
“Exercises and staff training are currently underway all over Russia. An exercise is taking place in Kaliningrad as well, and its scenario includes the deployment and possible use of Iskander missile systems. We are aware of it,” he said.
Russia’s defense ministry 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 Kaliningrad region as part of a Russian armed forces training plan.”
Kaliningrad was “not an exception” to drills conducted across the country, spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
Polish defense minister Antoni Macierewicz said on Saturday in Warsaw that Russia’s activities were “very alarming,” but declined to say whether he knew about any fresh deployment of Iskanders to Kaliningrad.
ERR reported on Friday that Russia’s Baltic Fleet moved Iskander missiles from Ust-Luga to Kaliningrad on the civilian vessel Ambal. The Ambal arrived in Kaliningrad on Friday.