The Russian military have been rolling out nuclear-capable Iskander-M missile hardware in Kaliningrad, a Russian territory sandwiched between EU countries of Poland and Lithuania. They are considering a nuclear add-on option.In an interview in Polish newspaper “Rzeczpospolita”, a Polish journalist asks questions of Igor Korotchenko, Russian military analyst, and writer/editor in the Russian press.
Some Russian generals insist that Moscow have already deployed Iskander-M missile systems in Kaliningrad. Will these missiles be fitted with nuclear warheads?
By 2018 all Russian troop rocket Brigades will be fitted out only with iskanders. Therefore, these systems will appear in the Kaliningrad region as part of the modernisation. But whether the missiles would be fitted with nuclear warheads, is a decision of the commanders of the Russian armed forces. This decision will depend on the military situation around Russia’s western borders, and politics.
What military-political situation would be unacceptable to the Kremlin?
If a significant number of foreign troops were deployed in Poland, Moscow may decide on the deployment of nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad. In the agreements between Russia and NATO it is clearly written that the United States will not deploy its military bases in countries that recently have been accepted into the Alliance, and which share borders with Russia. However, the greatest threat to us is being created in Poland, with an American missile defense system. The most worrying thing about it is that these systems can be equipped with the latest American Tomahawk Block IV type missiles carrying nuclear warheads.
Are the Russian iskanders smarter than the American Tomahawk system?
Iskander-M type systems have two types of rockets. They can be equipped with ballistic missiles, which fly very high, are hard to track, or can be equipped with missiles, which will be flying 30-50 meters above the ground. If the American Aegis systems in Poland will be nuclear weapons, iskanders can intercept them. What’s more, if you equip our missiles with nuclear warheads, the problem will be solved quickly.
Should Polish and Baltic countries be concerned about threats on the part of Russia?
Russia has no need to attack NATO countries. We need to develop our economy and industry. We don’t need the war. In the Baltic States there is paranoia. What is the state of the economy of Lithuania and Latvia? Meanwhile, as hundreds of thousands of young people emigrate from these countries to the West, the political elite are leading luxury lifestyles and are not worried. A continuously bullying war society helps them to maintain power and does not solve any problems. Additionally, the anti-Russian mood in Poland is conditioned to historical pretensions, which is firmly rooted, mainly among the Polish intellectuals. It’s been so many years, yet still in Poland to this day people talk of Russian occupation. To be sure, Poland is one of three European countries (except France and Germany) which have global ambitions and want to take part in world events. We do not want confrontation with Poland, but when American rockets are deployed in its territory, we will have to react to it.
Relations between Moscow and Washington resemble those of 30 years ago. The Kremlin’s number one enemy seems to be the UNITED STATES. How do you see the future of this confrontation?
I always knew that the Americans seek the destruction of the Russian State. But until recently, we collaborated with them. Today, the pretense was dropped and the American authorities openly began to blackmail Russia with missiles, aircraft and tanks deployed at our borders. The situation is simple. The Americans want to control the whole world, and Russia is the only country in history that can stand up to the UNITED STATES in the event of war.
Igor Korotchenko is editor-in-Chief of “Nacjonalna Oborona”, associated with the Ministry of Defense of Russia, and somewhat obviously, pro-Russian in his comments.