Baltic maneuvers: Why Russia militarizes Kaliningrad?

Author : Mykola Beleskov

The trend of militarization of Russian foreign policy continues and takes on the new dimensions
19:40, 5 December 2016

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NATO Parliamentary Assembly

This time, the epicenter of world media attention became Kaliningrad enclave. November 21, 2016 it was reported that in this region the Kremlin placed its units, armed with modern anti-ship complex "Bastion-P" of the supersonic cruise missile "Onyx."

Ammunition of one such complex may include up to 36 missiles. According to various sources, the range of this missile system is of 300-350 km against targets at sea.

Consequently, much of the Baltic Sea will be in the affected area of the complex.

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However, there are some questions about the ability of Russian defense industry to provide the full needs of the Russian army in these complexes on news of large-scale deployment of weapons systems in recent years. Only in the third quarter of 2016 during a single day acceptance Defense Production Minister of Defense discussed the creation of 100 cruise missiles "Caliber" and "Onyx" and transfer them to the army, but how many and which missiles were created precisely was not known.

During 2015 was created and passed two army missile complexes "Bastion-P". On the other hand, in parallel with the deployment of systems "Bastion-P" in the Kaliningrad region, Russian Federation transferred from Crimea to Syria systems of this type, and sent in their place new systems "Bastion-P", and another connection was launched last week in the disputed Kuril islands to Japan. In addition, during the 2014-2015 years, these anti-ship systems appeared in the New Earth.

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Thus, the question remains open, how many launchers, anti-ship complex "Bastion-P" Russia has deployed in the Kaliningrad region? However, back to the news on the deployment of anti-complexes "Bastion-P", it should be recalled that it was only a last step the Kremlin to further militarization of western enclave.

In particular, October 26, it became known that small missile ships of the "Buyan-M" - "Serpukhov" and "Zelenyi Dol", which previously were part of the Black Sea Fleet, will be transferred to the Baltic Fleet. In addition, the 2020 Baltic fleet replenished by three small missile ships of the "Buyan-M", who will be specially upgraded according to the climatic conditions of location.

Also, media reports stated that the Kaliningrad group also reinforce other complex coastal defense "Bal", which is armed with cruise missiles X-35 with a range of 130 km. As a result, around the Kaliningrad region will be created a layered defense system against a hypothetical enemy surface ships.

Moreover, there is a possibility that anti-complex "Ball" has also expanded. This new inspection systems for the Coast Guard believed, November 22 with check in Kaliningrad second time in two months, was the commander of the Western military district, Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov.

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In addition, November 21, 2016 the head of the Committee on Defense and Security Council of the Federation Viktor Ozyerov decided to scare the West with future plans to locate in Kaliningrad enclave of air defense systems S-400 and OTRK "Iskander" classically citing this step the need to counter missile defense of NATO in Europe.

However, there is a number of issues with this statement. First, in April 2012 Division air defense systems S-400 deployed in the Kaliningrad region. Thus, the region became one of the first in Russia together with the Moscow region, which has got this most modern complex.

So the question is does Russian senator know all this information. It is these complexes, covering 1/3 of the airspace of Poland, have caused concern in the US Air Force commander in Europe in January 2016. On the other hand, periodic threats about placing complexes "Iskander" in the Kaliningrad region, which began in November 2008, were not implemented.

This is a direct consequence of the fact that the Russian defense industry is inferior to the Soviet potential and cannot fully meet the needs of the army in the new missile complexes, which have replaced "Tochka-U". During the years 2006-2016 was set just 108 launchers for 9 teams - for comparison, for the years 1976-1987 MIC USSR created 509 launchers powerful missile system of medium-range RSD-10 Pioneer / SS-20.

From the beginning, according to the plan of modernization and technical re-equipment of the Armed Forces all ground units would get new missile complexes "Iskander" in 2018, but today we are talking about at least 2020. Thus, we are dealing with a typical Russian practice when threatened yet non-existent systems.

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In any case, the rate at strengthening the role of the power factor in the foreign policy of the Kremlin could be clearly seen. Russia, of course, continues to argue that the recent decision to increase military capabilities is only part of the plan to modernize its army and renovation, implementation of which started still in 2011. Moreover, this formal attention to strengthening military grouping in the Kaliningrad region can also seem justified.

Unlike the modernization and capacity building groups occupying forces in Crimea over the past 2.5 years, the connection in Kaliningrad were priorities on the periphery of the Defense Ministry to modernize. Thus, the recent steps to increase the capacity of communities Kaliningrad would have to partially neutralize the gap.

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In parallel with the actions of Russia in the last two months the NATO countries began to take the first steps to implement the decisions of the Warsaw Summit to create 4 multinational battalions.

Thus, the UK began to deploy in Estonia contingent of 800 soldiers, which is 150 more than was originally ready to send London and Challenger-2 tanks. Similarly, Italy clearly declared readiness to send 140 soldiers to participate in the multinational NATO in Latvia, despite protests from Russia.

Germany confirmed the agreement not only send 650 soldiers to a battalion in Lithuania, but also to reinforce its tanks Leopard 2. Poland also became known November 21, 2016, plans to send a tank company of Lithuania.

In addition, parallel US is preparing to implement the decision for separate accommodation armored brigade in Central and Eastern Europe since 2017. In November 2016 came to Germany more than 600 containers of ammunition and equipment for the deployment of US military armored brigade group (4,000 people).

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However, only two battalions of the group will be deployed under the Baltic countries and Romania, along with Bulgaria. The main part of armored brigade combat team will remain in Poland (the base in Drawsko Pomorskie).

In addition, most vulnerable countries of the eastern flank of NATO make asymmetric and symmetric steps to enhance the effect of deterrence.

Thus, Estonia, forces which numbered 6,000 persons preparing at least 25 thousand people for possible conduct guerrilla warfare. Lithuania intends to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP in late 2017 - early 2018. Poland also announced plans to create a number of territorial defense forces 53,000 people by 2019.

But comparing the last steps of the Russian Federation and parallel through the collective efforts of NATO, together with some steps the US clearly shows a significant disparity in the footsteps of the parties.

The forces are deploying NATO or the United States, have no offensive capabilities, and therefore do not pose any real military threat to Russia.

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Moreover, instead of the concentration of these forces to increase their defense capabilities dissipate in the Baltic States and Poland. It's clearly fits into the vision of the High Command of NATO that Russia makes these countries more political, not a military threat.

However, weapons systems, which expands or intends to deploy in the Kaliningrad enclave Kremlin clearly show that Russia plans to slow down or prevent the transfer of sea, air or land major NATO forces in the event of Russian aggression against the Baltic States.

One should not forget that the current strategy of NATO defense Eastern flank is based on the idea of lifting capacity to the region if necessary forces hypothetical aggression of, as a result, eliminates the need to keep large forces in the Baltic states or Poland.

Related: NATO is preparing for Russian military aggression

This can lead to errors on the part of the Kremlin, who will believe not just in the West the opportunity to put before the fact of seizure of the Baltic states, but also to counteract attempts by the US and NATO to direct the main force to aid or de-occupation of these countries.

In turn, this raises questions about the need for the US and NATO counter Russian air defense, anti-ship complexes shock and aero-ballistic cruise missiles, which the Kremlin has deployed or plans to deploy in Kaliningrad region.

These issues today remain unanswered, because the decisions taken at the Warsaw Summit and meeting of NATO defense ministers in October 2016 are not directly related to issues of creation of on the perimeter of its border zones bans and restrictions on access.

Related: It's not the time for US to question importance of NATO, - Stoltenberg

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Cees Boogaart

Age: 64

Gender: М

Member since: 06.12.2016

Messages: 129

From whence: , Netherlands

6 December 2016, 12:09
Sweden should put at least 5000 soldiers on Gotland, Poland and Lithuania should (have) block(ed) Kalinnegrad and Suwalki Gap like ukraine/Moldova did with Transnistria, and Belarus Lukashenko should grow a pair of ".....", and replace the flag with the old white-red-white one.
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