Russia permanently stationing Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad

Russia stationed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in its Kaliningrad region on February 5, and intends to leave them there permanently, Lithuania's Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis told BNS.

In his words, Russia used to bring the missile complex to the region wedged between Lithuania and Poland for military drills only, however, "this time the situation is different – it is permanent stationing with all the necessary infrastructure in place."

"Iskander was to be unloaded in the Kaliningrad port at 12 p.m.," Karoblis said in Rukla.

Lithuania's intelligence agencies have said that placement of Iskander systems in Kaliningrad would be potentially more dangerous for Lithuania due to its capacity to hinder Allied actions in the region, while the complex is not needed for targets in Lithuania's territory, as theoretically they could be taken down by the existing capacities.

Iskander is a mobile short-range ballistic missile system operational since 2006. Its use is for destroying strategically important objects and has an operational range of 50 to 500 km, or up to 700 km according to different data. 

Lithuania's intelligence agencies have said that placement of Iskander systems in Kaliningrad would be potentially more dangerous for Lithuania due to its capacity to hinder Allied actions in the region, while the complex is not needed for targets in Lithuania's territory, as theoretically they could be taken down by the existing capacities.

In response to the permanent stationing of Iskander in Kaliningrad, NATO should start preparations for neutralization of the capacities in the Russian region aimed at restricting the arrival of NATO Allies in the Baltic states in case of a conflict.

The president said the Alliance should make faster decisions, update contingency plans for the Baltic states, facilitate the movement of military troops in the region and ensure air defense.

Iskander is being stationed in Kaliningrad on the day Lithuania marks a year since the deployment of an international NATO battalion.

On February 5 Vladimir Shamanov, head of the State Duma Defense Committee, confirmed the deployment to RIA news agency. 

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