Kalev Stoicescu of Tallinn’s International Centre for Defence and Security doesn’t think Russia has placed new mid-range ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad. Had that been the case, this would have been visible, Stoicescu holds, which is why he assumes the missiles are stationed farther east, away from Russia’s western borders.
The New York Times wrote on Tuesday that according to sources in the American government, Russia had introduced a new mid-range missile, formerly referred to as the SSC-X-8 in documents. But now the X had been removed from intelligence reports, hinting that U.S. intelligence considers the missile to be operational and no longer a system in development.
If so, this new weapon would be in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagain and the USSR’s Mikhail Gorbachev. Russia has not been comfortable with the treaty for a while, with Kremlin rhetoric pointing to the fact that Putin’s government was uneasy about the development of weapons of the type by neighboring countries to Russia’s east.
According to the sources quoted by the New York Times, Russia now has two rocket battalions equipped with the illegal type. One of them is stationed in Kapustin Yar in Russia’s southeast, the other was deployed to a basis elsewhere. An exact location isn’t known.
Kalev Stoicescu, a researcher and defense expert at the International Centre for Defence and Security in Tallinn, does not believe that the second battalion could be stationed in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad southwest of Lithuania, or in Russia’s Western military district.
“This is speculation of course, but logically thinking they would be a bit too much under our noses and too visible on this side, which is why the information that one battalion is in Kapustin Yar deep in Russian territory seems pretty logical. The second battalion could also be rather a bit farther away, forming units with this kind of weapon system and moving them around is visible anyway,” Stoicescu told ERR on Wednesday.
“Which of course doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be moved elsewhere rather quickly, if need be,” he added.
Chairman of the Riigikogu’s National Defence Committee and former minister of defense Hannes Hanso (SDE) didn’t want to comment. “These are the kind of topics that can’t be dissected by the use of the media,” Hanso said. “Important is the fact that Russia is violating agreements, and we know it, this is a behavioral pattern of Russia,” he added.
Editor: Dario Cavegn