Washington has warned Moscow not to destabilize the region after Russia announced the deployment of missiles on its western borders with some Baltic countries.
“We’ve urged Moscow to take no steps to destabilize the region,” US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Monday. “We’ve made that point with them.”
On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that it deployed several Iskander ballistic missile systems, which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, in Kaliningrad.
“Rocket and artillery units of the Western Military District are really armed with Iskander tactical missile systems,” head of the Defense Ministry’s press service Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
“The concrete areas of the deployment of Iskander missile battalions in the Western Military District do not contradict any international agreements or treaties,” he added.
Lithuania and Poland are among the states that voiced concerns about Russia’s decision.
“We certainly know the countries in the neighborhood have expressed concerns over it, and we’ll keep talking to them about it,” Harf said.
The Iskander ballistic missile has a range of up to 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) and travels at hypersonic speeds that make it very difficult to intercept.
The deployment of missiles came in response to the development of the US missile system in Europe.
Moscow says the NATO missiles are a threat to Russian national security, calling for guarantees that the missile system will not be aimed against Russia.
The White House, however, has refused to convince Kremlin about the case.
During his State of the Nation address on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his opposition to plans by foreign powers to develop high-precision weapons for use with missile defense systems.
“We are well aware of the fact that missile shield is defensive solely in its name,” Putin said.
“The increase by foreign countries of their strategic, high-precision non-nuclear systems potential and boosting missile defense possibilities could ruin earlier reached agreements in the sphere of nuclear arms control and reduction and lead the disruption of the so-called strategic balance,” he added.
“No one should have illusions over a possibility of taking military advantage over Russia,” Putin said. “We will never allow this.”
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