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Poland, Lithuania Nervous Over Reports Of Russian Missiles

An undated file picture shows Russian missile complex "Iskander" on display during a military equipment exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil.
AFP/Getty Images
An undated file picture shows Russian missile complex "Iskander" on display during a military equipment exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil.

Poland and Lithuania say they are worried over Russian news reports that Moscow has placed nuclear-capable missiles in its Baltic territory of Kaliningrad, which lies between the two countries.

"Further militarization of this region, bordering the Baltic states and NATO, creates further anxiety, and we will be watching the situation there closely," Lithuania's Defense Minister Juozas Olekas said, describing the deployment as "alarming."

The BBC reports that Warsaw and Vilnius have issued statements of concern over the alleged basing of Iskander short-range missiles in Kaliningrad as a counter to the U.S. plans for a missile shield in Europe. However, Moscow has sent mixed signals about such a deployment.

The BBC says:

"Russian defence ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, did not confirm the report - in the German newspaper Bild - that the Iskander system had been deployed to Kaliningrad."

"But he did say: 'Iskander operational-tactical missile systems have indeed been commissioned by the Western Military District's missile and artillery forces,' adding that Russia's deployment "does not violate any international treaties or agreements."

"The Western Military District includes parts of western and north-western Russia, including the Kaliningrad exclave, which is separated from Russia proper and wedged between Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic Sea."

"The Russian newspaper Izvestia reported on Monday that the missiles had already been stationed in the area for more than a year."

However, reports that Russia's Defense Ministry has indeed confirmed the reports that Kaliningrad contains Iskanders, which NATO has designated SS-26 Stone missiles:

"Rocket and artillery units of the Western Military District are really armed with Iskander tactical missile systems,' Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, head of the Defense Ministry's press service, told reporters on Monday."

"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, as quoted by Interfax."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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