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Germany: Russian Missiles In Kaliningrad A 'Setback' For European Security

A test-firing of Russia's Iskander cruise missile (file photo)

A decision by Russia to permanently station Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, its enclave on the Baltic Sea, would mark a setback for European security, Germany's foreign minister told the Interfax news agency on March 8.

Russia last year moved the ballistic nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad and deployed an S-400 air missile defense system there. It said the deployment was part of routine drills, but Western military officials worry that it may become permanent.

"If Iskander missiles were stationed in Kaliningrad permanently, that would be a cause for great concern and a blow to European security," German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Interfax. "That is why we are watching what's happening in Kaliningrad very carefully."

Some Iskander-M missiles can hit targets 700 kilometers away, putting Berlin within range of Kaliningrad.

Gabriel rejected Russian criticism of NATO's deployment of 4,000 troops to Poland and the Baltic states, including 400 German soldiers in Lithuania.

"Germany and other NATO states were not the first to go into the Baltic area," he told Interfax, adding that the number of German troops in the region was small compared with Russia's massive buildup.

Gabriel made the remarks before traveling to Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on March 9.

Based on reporting by Interfax and Reuters