Monday, December 4, 2017

December 4, 2017 (Reuters) - Moscow will deploy S-400 surface-to-air missiles and nuclear-capable Iskander systems in the exclave of Kaliningrad in retaliation for NATO deployments, a senior pro-Kremlin lawmaker was quoted as saying on Monday. Russia has previously said it periodically sends Iskanders to Kaliningrad, but until now it has said these were routine drills. Moscow has not linked the moves explicitly with what it says is a NATO military build-up on Russia’s western borders. After the election as U.S. president of Donald Trump, who has said he wants closer ties with the Kremlin and has questioned the cost of protecting NATO allies, some analysts predict an emboldened Moscow could become more assertive in eastern Europe.
Russian S-400 Triumph medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile systems drive during the Victory Day parade, marking the 71st anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, in this May 9, 2016. photo REUTERS (Sergei Karpukhin).

Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, said in remarks reported by RIA news agency that Russia was forced to react to the planned U.S. missile shield in eastern Europe. “As response measures to such threats we will have... to deploy additional forces... This reinforcement includes deployment of S-400 and Iskander systems in Kaliningrad,” the agency quoted Ozerov as saying.
 The Iskander-M is a mobile short-range ballistic missile system designed to be used in theater level conflicts with an official range of up to 500 km (minimum-50 km) to comply with the limits of the INF Treaty. Highly mobile and stealth, it can hardly be detected even with the help of space reconnaissance assets. The accuracy, range and ability to penetrate defenses allow it to function as an alternative to precision bombing for air forces that cannot expect to launch bombing or cruise missile fire missions reliably in the face of superior enemy fighters and air defenses.

The defense ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Ozerov’s remarks. Also on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted talking about how Russia has to respond to what it perceives as a threat from U.S.-led forces in eastern Europe.