Russia is deploying extremely powerful nuclear capable missiles in range of all four Baltic NATO allies, Estonian officials said Friday.
“For Warsaw and several other NATO capitals, this move resembles a Baltic version of the Cuban Missile Crisis,” former NSA analyst and national security expert John Schindler wrote in The New York Observer Friday. The missile deployment may also violate an intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty with Russia.
Schindler continued, “An Iskander-M based in Kaliningrad can strike targets deep in Poland and across the whole Baltic region. Make no mistake, this is primarily an offensive weapons system.”
Estonian officials noted that Russia is sending the missiles by ship, which docked in Kaliningrad on Friday. The defense minister grimly warned:
This weapon is highly sophisticated and there is no comparable weapon in western armoury. It can carry nuclear weapons, change direction mid-flight and fly distances of up to 500km. As such it is capable of threatening Poland, including the US missile defence installations there. You would not change the date of the delivery of a system such as this on a whim. The intention is to make a strong strategic point
The missile system deployment follows a string of recent provocations between the U.S. and Russia. The U.S. suspended bilateral ties with Russia over Syria, after Russia’s continued indiscriminate bombing of civilians. Russia in turn issued a veiled threat that it would strike U.S. aircraft if the U.S. moved against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Russia also sent two armed fighter aircraft into NATO airspace Thursday, with transponders turned off. Armed fighter incursion into an adversary’s territory is a significant provocation by Russia against the NATO alliance. The next day, Russia deployed another armed fighter into Estonian airspace.
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