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Kremlin Says It's Up To Russia Where It Deploys Its Missiles

An Iskander ballistic-missile launcher (file photo)
An Iskander ballistic-missile launcher (file photo)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that Russia has the right to decide where it deploys its military resources on its own territory, following reports that Russia had deployed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in its Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.

Peskov's comments on February 6 came a day after Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite announced that Russian short-range "Iskander missiles are being stationed in Kaliningrad for permanent presence as we speak."

Grybauskaite, speaking after visiting NATO troops in the central Lithuanian town of Rukla, said the deployment posed a threat not only to Lithuania but to "half of all European countries."

Vladimir Shamanov, the head of the Russian State Duma's Defense Committee, confirmed the deployment of the missiles in remarks carried by Russian news agencies on February 5.

Peskov on February 6 said, "The deployment of one weapon or another, the deployment of military units and so forth on Russian territory is exclusively a sovereign issue for the Russian Federation.

"Naturally, Russia has this sovereign right. It should hardly be cause for anyone to worry," he said.

The Pentagon has previously objected to Russian deployments of intermediate-range missiles within Russian territory as a violation of the "spirit and intent" of a landmark arms control agreement known as the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.

U.S. military officials have said they believe Russia has deliberately made previous deployments in order to pose a threat to NATO countries and to facilities within the NATO area of responsibility.

The 1987 treaty covers short-range missiles and their launchers, with ranges of 500 to 1,000 kilometers, as well as intermediate-range missiles with ranges of 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers.

NATO Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller said the Kaliningrad deployment, if true, was "a very serious matter."

The Iskander missiles can be fitted with a conventional or a nuclear warhead and have a range of up to 500 kilometers.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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