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Russia may deploy more troops, missiles in Kaliningrad: Senior MP

Russia may deploy additional military forces and equipment to its Western border regions — including its Iskander-M tactical missile systems – in response to increasing US military buildup in Poland, a senior legislator says.

Moscow will “most certainly” respond to the ongoing military buildup by the US-led NATO alliance at its western borders, said Russian State Duma’s Defense Committee Chairman Vladimir Shamanov, state news agency TASS reported.

“That may result in not only an increase of the number of military personnel, but could also involve strengthening our Iskander-M group, in [Russia’s western exclave of] Kaliningrad in particular,” added the lawmaker, who had formerly served as an airborne troops commander.

He further censured US moves in Eastern Europe, saying Washington is building up its military contingent in the region without consulting with Moscow, in violation of international agreements.

The senior Russian lawmaker was reacting to reports that the US had “covertly” moved a new mechanized brigade to Poland recently, which in effect increases the overall power of its military force in the Eastern European country to the level of a mechanized division.

On Thursday, Washington also announced the arrival of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in a Polish NATO outpost situated about 100 miles from Russia’s Kaliningrad region.

Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov also announced on Thursday that “the US 2nd Armored Brigade arrived and took up positions in Poland, [bringing in] its own military hardware” in the wake of Western concerns over the recent joint Russia-Belarus ‘Zapad-2017’ military drills in the area.

American Soldiers are seen during NATO Saber Strike military exercises on June 16, 2017 in Orzysz, Poland. (Photo by AFP)

The spokesman further said the equipment of the 3rd US Armored Brigade, which was previously stationed in the region, “remained in place,” drawing attention to the fact that the US could easily redeploy its trained military personnel from the German Rammstein base to Poland within just two hours.

“In contrast to the claims of NATO and the US on the insignificance of the troops approaching the Russian border, in fact now it is not a brigade there but a US mechanized military division,” he added.

According to Konashenkov, under NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve rotation scheme, the 3rd Armored Brigade should not have brought its own military equipment to Poland, but it should have rather used the hardware left by the 2nd Armored Brigade.

Building up such military might on Russian borders, he underlined, violates the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.

This is while both the NATO military alliance and Poland rejected the statements by the Russian Defense Ministry, saying that the block’s activities remain “proportionate and fully consistent with its international commitment,” Poland’s PAP news agency reported.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, neither confirmed nor denied the reports regarding the figures involved in the military buildup, with Defense Department’s spokeswoman Dana White stating on Friday, “We are in those places as a defensive posture and we are very clear about that.”

NATO and its European allies have staged several war games and amassed troops on the doorsteps of Russian borders, often justifying such moves as a perceived “threat” from Moscow.

Moscow says the US and its NATO allies seek to undermine Russia’s national security by surrounding it with hostile forces.

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