Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Last Call For My Neighbor Vladimir

Now that Vlad The Dudesplainer has his man in Washington, he's feeling pretty free and clear to make his moves around Europe and dare NATO to try anything.  This week, he's moved short ranged missile launchers into Kaliningrad, that lovely little Russian chunk of land on the Baltic between Lithuania and Poland.

NATO has accused Russia of "aggressive military posturing" following reports that it has deployed anti-ship missiles in its westernmost Baltic region.

Russia's Interfax news agency said on Monday that Bastion missile-launchers had been sent to Kaliningrad.

In a statement to the Associated Press, NATO said the move "does not help to lower tensions or restore predictability to our relations".

The Kremlin has accused NATO of stoking tensions by expanding eastwards.

Kaliningrad is a Russian exclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

In October, Russia sent nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a move Poland described as of the "highest concern".

Russia said the deployment was part of military exercises and had happened before.

So what, you're thinking, standard Vlad move, right?  Well...

The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad represents an important military outpost between Poland and Lithuania with its coastline on the Baltic Sea.

The accumulation of radars and air defence systems, as well as coastal anti-shipping missiles, all form part of Moscow's developing "anti-access and area denial strategy", which in essence seeks to push NATO forces away from Russia and to make it very difficult to reinforce NATO members in the Baltic region in the event of a crisis.

The fact that Russia can cut off the Baltic is bad enough.  It gets worse.

However, in a separate statement on Monday, the RIA news agency quoted Russian defence committee chairman Viktor Ozerov as saying Iskanders and S-400 surface-to-air missiles were deployed in Kaliningrad to counter a planned US missile defence shield in eastern Europe.

The Bastion system fires Oniks cruise missiles, which have a range of up to 280 miles (450km). Russia has already used them in the Syrian civil war where it is supporting President Bashar al-Assad.

By the way for those of you at home, places within 280 miles or so of Kaliningrad?  Most of Poland, southeastern Sweden, and the bonus round, northeastern Germany.  You know, Berlin.

Have a nice Turkey Day, courtesy of our good friend Vlad!

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