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2019-01-07 | Security

Russia moving nuclear-capable missile system into Europe

Russian forces in Astrakhan Province perform an exercise using the Iskander-M missile system last March. The 9M729 missile, which violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, is thought to be launched from a system similar to the Iskander. [Russian Defence Ministry]

Russian forces in Astrakhan Province perform an exercise using the Iskander-M missile system last March. The 9M729 missile, which violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, is thought to be launched from a system similar to the Iskander. [Russian Defence Ministry]


Russia is moving its Iskander-M missile system -- which is capable of launching a nuclear missile that is in violation of a bedrock international arms treaty -- to its brigade in Kaliningrad, the Russian territorial outpost between Poland and Lithuania.

The Russian Ministry of Defence announced the move on its website on January 1.

The 9M729 missile, also known as the SSC-8, is thought to be launched from the Iskander system, or one very similar to it. It has a strike range of up to 2,500km, putting it in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

The historic pact bans ground-launched missiles with a range of 500km to 5,500km.

The transfer of the Iskander-M system to Russia's Western Military District will be "completed in 2019", the ministry said, and it includes "two types of missiles: ballistic and cruise".

"The complex is designed to eliminate enemy missile launchers, anti-missile and air defence systems, airplanes and helicopters at airfields, command posts and infrastructure," it said.

Empty claims, real threats

The transfer of the Iskander-M missile system within striking range of Europe is the latest in a series of boastful claims and provocations against NATO allies.

Russia has been trumpeting dubious claims regarding two weapons undergoing testing that supposedly no foe will be able to withstand, even as the Kremlin professes peaceful intentions around the globe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described a naval weapon, the Poseidon, as "invulnerable" to enemy defences, the state-run TASS Russian News Agency reported December 25.

The underwater unmanned vehicle -- previously known as the Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System and which NATO calls Kanyon -- is reportedly capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

At a cabinet session December 26, Putin hailed "unqualified success" in testing the hypersonic Avangard missile.

"This is a major event in the life of the Armed Forces and probably of the country," he said. "Russia now has a new strategic weapon system."

The Russian press and government have made plentiful claims of both the Poseidon and the Avangard's destructive power, although so far they have not backed up those assertions.

Putin has made no secret of his facetious approach towards nuclear security.

Putin joked on October 18 that in the event of a nuclear exchange, "We, as victims of aggression, as martyrs, will go to heaven. [The aggressors] will simply die because they won't even have time to repent."

At the same time, Russian troops are fighting in Ukraine and Syria and occupying a fifth of Georgia's territory.

Russian troops are still deployed in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan more than 27 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.

In April, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Russia's intention of increasing the combat readiness of Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, providing them with modern armament and military equipment.

INF Treaty in jeopardy

Moscow has come under increasing fire for its repeated violations of the the INF Treaty.

In early December, the United States threatened to leave the treaty if Russia fails to dismantle its missiles in breach of the 1987 agreement within 60 days.

"Russia's actions gravely undermine American national security and that of our allies and partners," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said December 4 after talks with fellow NATO foreign ministers.

"We strongly support the finding of the United States that Russia is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty," NATO's 29 foreign ministers said in a joint statement.

In November, the Dutch government said it had evidence that Russia is violating the INF Treaty.

"The Netherlands can independently confirm that Russia has developed and is currently introducing a ground-based cruise weapon," Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld wrote in the joint letter dated November 27.

But with the deadline looming, and a multitude of world leaders voicing concerns over the potential demise of the INF Treaty, Russia has continued to respond with intransigence and denials.

Russian officials last month refused to allow inspectors to examine the controversial nuclear missile in potential violation of the INF treaty.

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Comment bubble | 2019-03-09

Sub-criminals are under impression that law, treaties and justice do not exist. They fail because of this mistake. We need a good nuclear war. There are so many of you [people]. Insects can reproduce milliards of their kind, but human being is a rarity.

Comment bubble | 2019-03-04

The less you know, the better you sleep

Comment bubble | 2019-02-25

One can shit talk himself hoarse, but if the Yanks are stopped and the permission to deploy their troops and missiles is not given, Europe will immediately see that Russia is right in its intentions, it doesn't need war. And all the "Iskanders" and "Calibers" would be re-deployed to the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka.

Comment bubble | 2019-02-20

Every piece of news is about Russia, do you not have your own problems??? [You look] like grannies on the bench [In the Russian culture and folklore the expression 'grannies sitting on the bench' is synonymous with rumors, insults and unenlightened opinions]

Comment bubble | 2019-02-15

Who pays for Caravan[serai]? The Yanks?

Comment bubble | 2019-02-14

Oligarchs are playing war and people are suffering losses. The Russian Federation is not the USSR.

Comment bubble | 2019-02-07

Good job. Keep up the good work

Comment bubble | 2019-02-03

Only one smart person out of all the comments here

Comment bubble reply | 2019-02-07

Don't give in. Keep it up

Comment bubble | 2019-02-02

That's utter nonsense, everything is a stretch.

Comment bubble | 2019-02-01

What makes Russia evil? Iraq, Yugoslavia, Vietnam - was it Russia [attacking them]? Russia is a burr in America's saddle. It [the USA] is getting closer and closer. Should Russia give up, really now?

Comment bubble | 2019-01-22

Russia is evil

Comment bubble reply | 2019-02-24

An anti-rabies med can't taste sweet and the West is getting more and more rabid

Comment bubble | 2019-01-20

And who forces it [Russia] to make such steps. Is there a chance it is the USA?

Comment bubble | 2019-01-13

Russia is disintegrating totally recalling the Soviet Union. No missile could help [Russians]

Comment bubble reply | 2019-01-27

Don't shake in your boots then. Don't mess with Russia if you are cowards. Shake and hush.

Comment bubble | 2019-01-13

The Yanks won't be able to turn themselves into the sole ruler of the world! They have their own territory across the ocean and they should be there and not interfere with the affairs of other countries!

Comment bubble | 2019-01-11

The West should simply shut down the Nord Stream 2 pipeline then. And the Kremlin will quickly become accommodating

Comment bubble reply | 2019-01-28

Well, I think you're wrong. Where would you sell it? So, China is around the corner and Europe without gas is a question for them whether they want it [to be like that]?

Comment bubble | 2019-01-10

What about the American bases at the Russia's doorstep, [Americans] need to remove them ))))

Comment bubble reply | 2019-01-14

This will change nothing. No matter what, Russia is a superpower

Comment bubble reply | 2019-01-29


Comment bubble | 2019-01-09

Hit Russia with a couple of heavy sanctions. That will be a New Year's present. Starving [Russian] people will throw Putler away themselves. [Putler is Vladimir Putin's nickname reminiscent of Hitler, popular among those who dislike him and his policies]

Comment bubble reply | 2019-01-28

You've tried that already, haven't you? So what???

Comment bubble | 2019-01-09

Info icon Removed Comment

Comment bubble reply | 2019-02-03

Well played, I agree

Comment bubble reply | 2019-03-04

Europe should understand that the less you know the better you sleep

Comment bubble | 2019-01-08

How should Russia defend itself? [Russia] is under siege. Now [other countries] should be scared.