Russia considers arming Baltic fleet

  • 2008-08-18
  • In cooperation with the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and BNS

Photo: Mykola Madyar

LONDON- Russia isconsidering arming its Baltic fleet with nuclear warheads for the first timesince the cold war, warned senior military sources late August 17.

The Sunday Times wrote that under the Russian plans, nuclearwarheads could be supplied to submarines, cruisers and fighter bombers of theBaltic fleet based in Kaliningrad.

A senior military source in Moscowsaid the fleet had suffered from insufficient funds since the collapse ofcommunism.

"That will change now," said the source. "In view of America's determination to set up a missiledefense shield in Europe, the military is reviewing all its plans to give Washington an adequateresponse."

The proposal to bring back nuclear warheads was condemned by Kurt Volker, the US ambassadorto NATO, who said he knew of the threat.

The warnings came 24 hours after Russiatold Poland that it couldface a nuclear strike for agreeing to let the United States station components ofthe missile defense shield on its soil.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry finds this plan completely unacceptable.

"This could be viewed as Russia's harsh pressure againstsovereign neighboring states, which it would still prefer to consider its zoneof influence," the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

The Sunday Times cited an unnamed Russian officer as saying that Russia was for the first time after the end ofthe cold war considering the possibility of deploying arms with nuclear warheadsin its Baltic Fleet in the Kaliningradregion.

Russia has informed Poland that its permit for the US deployment of missile defenseelements in its territory could lead to a threat of nuclear attack.

Russia has also mentionedthat the nuclear missiles in its bases in Kaliningradand Belarus could betargeted at Western Europe, pledging to consider the possibility of againdispatching troops to Cuba.

USenvoy to NATO Kurt Walker has criticized the plans of supplying nuclear weaponsto the Russian Baltic Fleet.