Russia has escalated nuclear tensions in Europe by revealing Monday that it had moved nuclear-capable Iskander missiles closer to European states including Poland, where the U.S. has deployed a controversial air defense shield.
Experts say the advanced version of the Iskander missles could be used to take out ground-based radar and interceptors of the new NATO shield. The Iskander has a range of about 310 miles (500 kilimetres) and represents a direct threat to Poland and other potential European targets, according to a Agence France-Presse report.
“We’ve urged Russia to take no steps to destabilize the region,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in response, adding the US had also passed on to Moscow its neighbors’ concerns.
Meanwhile, Poland’s foreign ministry joined a European chorus of opposition including Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, calling the development “disturbing.”
“This is a matter for NATO and we can expect possible consultations and action (…) at the NATO and EU level,” Poland’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
‘Back to the USSR’
Reminiscent of the Cold War, Russia plans to deploy its new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) called the Sarmat ,in 2018. The ICBM can easily reach the U.S. if aimed and launched. The new-age nuke will replace the RS-20B Voyevoda, a vintage Cold War ICBM known in the West as "Satan." The nuclear upgrades have attracted the attention of European and the American governments alike. The troubling deployments by Russia were confirmed by Interfax news agency, quoting the commander of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces, General Sergei Karakayev.
Regarding Europe, Russian news agencies reportedly quoted defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying “Iskander operational-tactical missile systems have indeed been commissioned by the Western Military District’s missile and artillery forces.”
Konashenkov added that Russia’s deployment “does not violate any international treaties or agreements” and the West should not view the nuclear-capable deployments as a threat."