VILNIUS - Russian Kinzhal missiles deployed in the Kaliningrad region do not change the regional security situation and do not pose any further threat to Lithuania, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas says.
"I believe we shouldn’t worry too much about the location of one or another of their missiles. All the more so, the arsenals in Kaliningrad have been heavily used in the war against Ukraine. They have been heavily exploited. These missiles do not change the situation in any way,'' the minister told BNS on Thursday. "The nominal threat Russia poses to its neighbors is always there but the level of threat has not become any higher as a result."
The Kremlin has recently moved three warplanes armed with Kinzhal missiles Moscow calls hypersonic weapons to the Kaliningrad region, with the country's Defense Ministry saying that the planes would be on "round-the-clock combat standby".
Anusauskas says the military capability in Kaliningrad is currently significantly lower. In his words, the Russian exclave "has not been left aside" after the Kremlin attacked Ukraine and mobilized its forces.
"There's been a significant reduction in the number of personnel within various units, as well as in the number of weapons that have gone with the personnel: from a quarter to a half. This is not only the case with Kaliningrad as a whole, but also within individual units that have been used in the war against Ukraine", he said.
"We shouldn’t imagine that Kaliningrad has been left out when resources are being drawn from all over Russia to be used against Ukraine. So, Kaliningrad is not left out, it has been and continues to be drained of those resources", Anusauskas added.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin first unveiled Kinzhal missiles in 2018, he called them an "ideal weapon" capable of exceeding the speed of sound ten times, which makes it very hard for anti-missile defense system to intercept them.
Many experts, however say it’s just a slightly modified air-launched version of the conventional Iskander short-range ballistic missile launched from the ground.
Like all ballistic missiles, Iskander missiles develop a hypersonic range speed (above Mach 5) during a part of its flight path but they lack the maneuverability of hypersonic-class weapons.