Originally published on December 17, 2013
Russia has reportedly deployed Iskander missiles in the country's westernmost region of Kaliningrad, raising concern among neighboring NATO countries. The deployment of the missiles has long been threatened by Russia as a response to United States's European missile shield.
The Iskander is a truck-based theater ballistic missile system capable of carrying conventional or nuclear payloads. The system has a maximum range of 400 kilometers, making Berlin the furthest western target within range if its missiles are fired from Kaliningrad. The Iskander's warheads descend at supersonic speeds, which could potentially be used to destroy ground-based radar and interceptors of the NATO shield.
According to the New York Times, an announcement released by a Russian Defense Ministry official on Monday (December 16) confirms the Iskander missiles may have already be deployed and the deployment did not violate any international agreements or treaties.
Russia considers the NATO missile shield as a threat to its nuclear deterrent, even though the US insists that the missile shield is not aimed at Russia.
The interim capability of the NATO missile shield in 2012 includes a high-powered X-Band radar based in Turkey and one Aegis-equipped US warship deployed in the Mediterranean. Over time, the program will expand with more anti-missile warships and two land-based missile defence sites are planned to be operational in Romania in 2015 and in Poland in 2018.
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