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Russia to deploy Iskander Missiles near Polish border

SS-26 Iskander Missile. File photo

MOSCOW (BNS): Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has announced a battery of military measures to counter the US missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. The most significant is the deployment of short-range Iskander missile systems in its Kaliningrad enclave near Poland.

In his first state of the nation address to Parliament, Medevedev said an Iskander missile system would be deployed in the Kaliningrad Region to neutralise, if necessary, the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe.

The Russian President said Russia had cancelled plans to take three missile regiments out of service in a region to the west of Moscow.

"We earlier planned to remove three missile regiments of a missile division deployed in Kozelsk (Kaluga Region) from combat duty and disband the division by 2010. I have made a decision to withdraw these plans," Medvedev said, noting that Russia had been forced to take this measure.

The division has RS-18 Stiletto intercontinental ballistic missiles with a range of 10,000 km (6,200 miles).

The President said Russia would not be drawn into an arms race, but would continue to ensure the security of its citizens. He said the country was facing threats with the emergence of a global missile defence system, and the measure was to protect itself.

Medvedev said in Kaliningrad, electronic counter-measures unit will be deployed to suppress the US missile shield. Talking about ties with the US, he told the session, attended by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin along with his senior cabinet colleagues, that he held the Bush administration responsible for the worsening of bilateral relations.

The Russian president hoped that newly elected President Barack Obama would take a fresh look at strengthening relations with Moscow.

The United States had signed deals on the missile shield with Warsaw and Prague early this year. However, Polish and Czech lawmakers have yet to ratify the agreements.

The proposed missile shield has been a bone of contention between Russia and the US, former Cold War foes.
In the meantime, Russian officials said Moscow could also deploy its Iskanderl missiles and strategic bombers in Belarus, and warned that Russia could target its missiles at Poland.

Meanwhile, RIA Novosti quoted a Russian military analyst as saying that the deployment of Iskander systems would be the best possible response to US missile plans for Europe.

Anatoly Tsyganok, head of the Moscow-based Military Forecast Centre, said the deployment of Iskander systems with a range of 500 km (310 miles) would allow Russia to target the entire territory of Poland and also parts of Germany and the Czech Republic.

The Iskander-M tactical system is armed with precision-guided missiles (SS-26 Stone), capable of carrying multiple conventional or nuclear warheads.

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