Putin Says Iskander Missiles Not Yet on NATO's Border

Russian President Vladimir Putin at an annual press conference on Thursday in Moscow said no nuclear-capable Iskander missiles have been fielded in the Kaliningrad area -- a Russian exclave that borders NATO territory -- contrary to earlier indications by his Defense Ministry (Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images).
Russian President Vladimir Putin at an annual press conference on Thursday in Moscow said no nuclear-capable Iskander missiles have been fielded in the Kaliningrad area -- a Russian exclave that borders NATO territory -- contrary to earlier indications by his Defense Ministry (Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images).

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said ballistic missiles have not yet been fielded in a Russian exclave that abuts NATO territory, Reuters reports.

His remarks seem to contradict information provided on Monday by the Russian Defense Ministry when it said nuclear-capable Iskander missiles were "standing armed ... in the Western Military District" -- territory that includes the Kaliningrad exclave, which is situated between NATO members Lithuania and Poland. It is not yet clear what accounts for the discrepancy in information released by Moscow.

Russia has warned for some time that it could field nonstrategic Iskander missiles, which have a range of roughly 250 miles, as a response to NATO's efforts to erect an alliance-wide ballistic missile shield that is to include advanced U.S. interceptors fielded in Romania and Poland.

"One of the possible responses [to the Western missile-defense architecture] is to deploy Iskander complexes in Kaliningrad ... but I want to draw your attention to the fact that we have not yet made this decision yet, let them calm down," Putin said in remarks at a yearly press conference.

The Russian leader was apparently referring to objections raised by the United States, Poland, Lithuania and other NATO states to the reported fielding of the missiles.

Still, Putin reiterated warnings about military responses to the NATO missile-defense system, RIA Novosti reported.

"We have said many times that the missile shield threatens our nuclear potential, and so we must respond," he said.

At this time, "there is no need to defend anyone," Putin was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying. "There is no need to provoke anyone to take retaliatory steps."

The U.S. missile interceptor system about which Moscow is most concerned -- the next-generation Standard Missile 3 Block 2A -- is not planned for fielding in Poland before 2018.

December 19, 2013
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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said ballistic missiles have not yet been fielded in a Russian exclave that abuts NATO territory, Reuters reports.