Moscow: Russian’s armed forces had moved nuclear-capable Iskander missiles closer to Europe’s borders in response to the US-led deployment of a disputed air defence shield.
The announcement is almost certain to irritate the former Communist states of Eastern Europe and add another layer to the tensions in Moscow’s fraught relations with Washington.
The advanced version of the Russian missile has a range of 500 kilometres (310 miles) and could potentially be used to take out ground-based radar and interceptors of the new Nato shield.
A top Russian defence official said in response to the report that several Iskander batteries had been stationed in Russia’s Western Military District, a region that includes the exclave and also borders the European Union’s three Baltic nations that were once a part of the USSR.
He added that Russia’s deployment “does not violate any international treaties or agreements” and should therefore not be subject to protests from the West.
Both the United States and the Western military alliance have argued that the shield is not aimed at Russia but is designed to protect the West from potential threats from so-called “rogue states”.
But Moscow fears the system, whose components include missile-positioning satellites, may one day be turned into an offensive weapon that targets Russian soil.