MOSCOW, December 16 (RIA Novosti) – Russia confirmed Monday that it has deployed tactical ballistic missiles near its borders with NATO but said the move did not violate international agreements.
Bild newspaper in Germany reported over the weekend that Russia had “quietly” moved 10 Iskander-M (SS-26 Stone) missile systems into its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and along its border with the Baltic States and NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The deployment marks the realization of threats from Moscow to respond with a firm gesture to NATO plans to place elements of the so-called European missile shield close to Russian borders.
“The deployment of Iskander missile battalions on the territory of the Western Military District does not violate any respective international agreements,” ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
Konashenkov declined to provide details on the number of deployed missiles or their specific locations.
The Iskander-M is a mobile theater missile system equipped with two solid-propellant single-stage 9M723K1 guided missiles with “quasi-ballistic” capability.
With its reported effective range of 400 kilometers (250 miles), the Iskander does not fall into the category of intermediate-range nuclear missiles banned by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between Russia and the United States.
The missiles deployed in Kaliningrad could hit NATO targets located in Poland, Lithuania and even in Germany, however.