WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Washington will continue monitoring potential Russian military equipment deployment in the country’s westernmost Kaliningrad Region in the light of the recent short-range ballistic missiles deployment in the area, Michelle Baldanza, a spokeswoman of the US Department of Defense told Sputnik on Saturday.
“The deployment of short-range ballistic missiles in the Kaliningrad region marks an unfortunate and destabilizing action owing to its offensive capabilities and close proximity to several NATO Allies … We will continue to monitor any potential deployments and assess accordingly,” Baldanza said.
The missile systems’ deployment in Kaliningrad does not violate any bilateral treaties between the United States and Russia, the Pentagon spokeswoman noted.
However, such actions contribute to increasing tensions between Russia and its neighbors, Baldanza added.
Raimundas Karoblis, Lithuania’s defense minister, said in an interview with BNS news agency published on Monday, that Russia had deployed the Iskander ballistic missile systems in the Kaliningrad Region.
Vladimir Shamanov, head of the Russian lower house’s defense committee, subsequently confirmed the information.
Commenting on the Iskander missile systems deployment in Kaliningrad, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Moscow did not threaten anyone, noting Russia’s sovereign right to place weapons anywhere on its territory.
The possibility of deploying Iskander systems in the Kaliningrad Region in response to the deployment of NATO missile systems in the Czech Republic and Poland was initially voiced in 2008 by then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who currently holds the position of prime minister.
Over the past years, the United States and NATO have been increasing their military build-up in Eastern Europe and Baltic countries, citing the need for protection from alleged Russian aggression.
Moscow has repeatedly stated that Russia has never planned to attack any NATO member state. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that NATO recognizes this but uses the pretext of alleged Russian aggression to deploy more equipment and battalions next to Russian borders.