MOSCOW, May 7 (RIA Novosti) – Russia could deploy short-range Iskander missiles in the country’s westernmost Kaliningrad region if NATO decides to strengthen its military presence in Eastern Europe, Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky told RIA Novosti.
“Russia is a nuclear power,” he said. “If NATO becomes more active, we will deploy a division of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad Region,” added Buzhinsky, who previously headed the department of international agreements in the Russian Defense Ministry.
US Air Force General Philip Breedlove said Tuesday that NATO will consider permanently stationing troops in parts of Eastern Europe following the increased tensions over Ukraine, Reuters reported.
“I think this is something we have to consider and we will tee this up for discussion through the leaderships of our nations to see where that leads,” he was quoted as saying.
Defense and foreign ministers of NATO member states as well as senior commanders are to examine the alliance’s presence in Europe prior to a summit of NATO leaders in Wales this September, Breedlove said.
“I don’t see any potential danger if a military conflict between NATO and Russia in Europe involving ground forces,” Buzhinsky told RIA Novosti. “There is no military threat [to Russia], this is an information war,” he said.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said earlier the alliance will boost air patrols over Eastern Europe and dispatch extra ships to the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas due to the crisis in Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that NATO was attempting to use the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext to unite the alliance’s members and to push for Moscow’s isolation.
Rasmussen also claimed last month that “Russia is speaking and behaving not as a partner, but as an adversary.”
Franz Klintsevich, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defense, told RIA Novosti that deployment of NATO infrastructure in Eastern Europe and in the Baltic States endangers these countries and Russia should diplomatically deliver this message to the leadership of these states.
“A serious object in the Lithuanian territory, any modern nuclear weapon – means Lithuania basically doesn’t exist anymore, and politicians should understand that, this is a serious issue,” Franz Klintsevich said.
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The solution to the Ukrainian problem will directly depend on how the military operations unfold in Donbass. If the militia fighters take over the strategic initiative, win back Donbass and extend the war to the Zaporozhye and the Kharkov regions, then Kiev will be more amenable to a compromise