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VILNIUS - The deployment by Russia of new missiles in its Baltic Sea exclave Kaliningrad is intended to limit NATO allies' ships’ access to the Baltic States, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.
The ministry was responding to a report that Russia has deployed Bastion coastal defense missile systems in the region located between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea.
According to the ministry, Russia consistently continues the militarisation of the exclave to interfere with NATO’s ability to move reinforcements into the Baltics in the event of a conflict.
"In this particular case, Russia is enhancing its A2/AD capacities in the Baltic Sea region through the deployment of the Bastion coastal defense missile systems in Kaliningrad. This armament system is designed to restrict access by sea, hinder access for possible allied reinforcements to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia via the Baltic Sea," the ministry's Public Information Division informed BNS in a comment.
"These steps by Russia do not facilitate the strengthening of security in Europe," it added.
The Russian news agency Interfax reported on the deployment of new missiles in Kaliningrad yesterday, naming its sources. Bastion mobile coastal defense missile systems, which use Oniks anti-ship missiles, are believed to be able to hit targets at a distance of 350 kilometres at sea and 450 kilometres across land. One system may include as many as 36 missiles.
The Lithuanian Defense Ministry notes that it is waiting for Russia to notify NATO of the military build-up.
"Our position is that the Russian Federation should provide NATO with information about the modernisation and deployment of its capabilities and weaponry, as well as large-scale military exercises," the ministry said in its comment.
"NATO, on its part, informed Russia back in July about the decisions adopted during its Warsaw summit and NATO is also ready to provide information about the biggest exercises of 2016. We expect the same approach from the Russian side," it said.