Kaliningrad nuclear bunker restored: claim

Kaliningrad nuclear bunker restored: claim

Satellite pictures appear to show Russia has upgraded a nuclear weapons bunker in Kaliningrad as tensions with the west continue to rise, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

The organisation said there appeared to be an effort to excavate and deepen the store and add a new roof.

“It has all the fingerprints of typical Russian nuclear weapons storage sites,” blogged Hans Kristensen, a director at FAS. 

“There is a heavy-duty external perimeter of multi-layered fencing. The bunkers themselves have triple fencing around them as well. These are typical features from all the other nuclear weapons storage sites that we know about in Russia,” Kristensen wrote.

Moscow has not yet commented on the reports but has previously defended its right to deploy weapons in Kaliningrad. 

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled an “invincible” missile that he claimed would render Nato defences “completely useless”, developed in response to moves in Washington.

Unlike Nato, the Russian military, particularly its navy, has kept many of its weapons systems nuclear capable, including anti-ship missiles, short-range land-attack missiles and even air defences.

Kristensen said it was unclear what kind of warheads the renovated bunker in Kaliningrad was meant to serve, but it was much closer to the naval base than the missile installation, which is further inland.

Work on the bunker began in 2016 but the roof was purportedly added more recently.

“The features of the site suggest it could potentially serve Russian air force or navy dual-capable forces,” Kristensen wrote. “It is to my knowledge the only nuclear weapons storage site in the Kaliningrad region.”

Kaliningrad, a World Cup host city, is former German province of East Prussia on the Baltic, seized in 1945. 

Kristensen said the pictures did not show conclusively that nuclear weapons had been moved to the site. 

“It’s a site we have been monitoring for quite some time and there have been and there have been some upgrades in the past but nothing as dramatic as this one. This is the first time we’ve seen one of the nuclear bunkers being excavated and apparently renovated,” Kristensen said.

The Russian military has deployed mobile Iskander-M missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads to a range of up to 500km.

The US has argued the weapons are illegal under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

 

 

 

Kaliningrad hosts England and Belgium next week. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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