Nato slams Russian missiles
US paratroopers arrive in Estonia for Nato training in 2014. Source: Flickr
Nato has accused Russia of stoking tensions with the deployment of anti-ship missiles to its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.
The organisation said the positioning of Bastion missile-launchers in Kaliningrad, which borders Poland and Lithuania, was “aggressive military posturing”. The action would do nothing to “lower tensions or restore predictability to our relations”, Nato said in a statement.
John Kirby, a US State Department spokesman, called the placement of S-400 air missile defence system and ballistic Iskander missiles to the former eastern German region of Konigsberg “destabilising to European security”. “In terms of recent months and years, there would have been no reason for Nato to advance and commit additional capabilities on the European continent – to include American capabilities – had it not been for Russia’s move in Ukraine.”
Kaliningrad’s strategic importance to Moscow grew when Poland joined Nato in 1999, followed by the Baltic states in 2004.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call with Donald Trump, the US president-elect, said he was “very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia”, according to Trump’s transition team.
Equally, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian government, in response called Nato an “aggressive” military alliance.
“Russia does what it has to do. It has every sovereign right to take necessary measures throughout the territory of the Russian Federation,” Peskov told reporters in Moscow.
“Russia is doing all that is necessary to protect itself amid Nato’s expansion toward its borders. The alliance is a truly aggressive bloc, so Russia does what it has to do. It has every sovereign right to take necessary measures throughout the territory of the Russian Federation.”
Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defence committee in Russia’s upper house, said that Moscow’s deployment of the Iskander missiles was a response to the Nato missile shield in eastern Europe.
The US activated the first phase of its land-based missile defence system in Romania in May with another batch to come in Poland in 2018. Nato says the missile shield is intended to guard against attack from West Asia or North Korea.
Russian defence ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenko, said that the real threat to European security came from “Europe’s saturation with armaments” and the increasingly large deployment of Nato troops, including in the three Baltic states and Poland. “[It is] a simple thing: all current threats to European security are a consequence of the US military policy implemented in the past 10 years.”