The Russian military has deployed state-of-the art anti-shipping missiles in the country’s westernmost Baltic region, the Interfax news agency has reported, a move that comes amid rising tensions in Russia-west ties.
The military has put Bastion missile launchers on duty in the Kaliningrad exclave that borders the Nato members Poland and Lithuania, Interfax said.
The Russian defence ministry said over the weekend that the Baltic fleet was rearming itself with new missile launchers, but did not elaborate. The ministry had no immediate comment on the Interfax report.
The Bastion fires supersonic Oniks cruise missiles, which have a range of up to 280 miles (450km) and can be used against ships and ground targets. Last week, it made its combat debut in Syria where the Russian military used it against militants.
Separately, Viktor Ozerov, the head of the defence affairs committee in the Russian parliament’s upper house, told Ria Novosti news agency on Monday that Russia would also deploy Iskander tactical ballistic missiles and S-400 air defence missile systems to Kaliningrad in response to the US defence plans.
“We are facing two main tasks to penetrate air defences and ensure protection from possible strikes,” he said.
The S-400, which Russia has used to protect its airbase in Syria, is a sophisticated system that can simultaneously track and strike multiple aerial targets at ranges of up to 250 miles.
Based in the Kaliningrad region, the S-400s will be capable of targeting Nato aircraft and missiles over most of the Baltic region.
Iskander has a range of up to 310 miles and high precision, allowing it to target facilities in several Nato member states neighbouring Russia with pinpoint accuracy.
It can be fitted with a conventional or a nuclear warhead.
Last month, the deployment of Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad region worried Russia’s neighbours. The Russian military said the move was part of regular training, but did not specify whether the missiles were sent there temporarily or deployed on a permanent basis.
The Kremlin has long warned that the development of Nato’s US-led missile defence system poses a danger to Russia’s security and vowed to take countermeasures. Moscow also has complained strongly against the deployment of Nato’s military units near Russia’s borders.
“To counter these threats, we will be forced to strengthen our air and missile defences in the western vector and to deploy additional means to defend the relevant command-and-control infrastructure,” Ozerov told Ria Novosti.