Poland voices concern over Russian missile deployment
December 17, 2013
Poland’s foreign ministry issued a statement of concern on Monday over reports that Russia has deployed nuclear-capable missiles close to its borders.
The reaction has come on the back of the news in Russian and German media saying Moscow had deployed Iskander-M missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave, which is separated from Russia proper and wedged between Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic Sea.
Germany's Bild newspaper first reported over the weekend that Russia had deployed about ten Iskander systems in its Kaliningrad exclave at some point in the past year.
The Russian newspaper Izvestia wrote on Monday that the missiles had already been stationed in the area for more than a year.
Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the news "disturbing" and said it had expected consultations between NATO and European Union partners on the issue.
"Plans to deploy Iskander-M missiles in the Kaliningrad district are disturbing and Poland has said so many times," the statement said.
It added that such a deployment "would contradict effective Polish-Russian co-operation, in particular with respect to this region, and undermine constructive dialog between Nato and Russia. We will raise this topic in our bilateral contacts with the Russian side."
"This is a matter for NATO and we can expect possible consultations and action (...) at the NATO and EU level," the ministry added.
The ministry said it had received no official information from Russia about the deployment, which a Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov confirmed on Monday.
"Iskander operational-tactical missile systems have indeed been commissioned by the Western Military District's missile and artillery forces," Russian news agencies quoted Konashenkov as saying.
He added that Russia's deployment "does not violate any international treaties or agreements" and should therefore not be subject to protests from the West.
In 2011 Russia said it might put missiles along the European Union's eastern frontier in response to the planned US-led deployment of an air defense shield in Europe, which Kremlin sees as a threat to its nuclear deterrent.
The advanced version of the Iskander missile has a range of about 500 kilometers, which means those in Kaliningrad could reach Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Poland have had difficult relations with Moscow since Poland shed communism in 1989 and joined NATO a decade later.