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18 Sep, 2007 11:04

Russia to deploy missile shield in Kaliningrad region?

As a response to the stationing of the U.S. missile defence system in Europe, Russia may deploy medium- range missiles in its Kaliningrad region. Situated on the Baltic coast, the area is separated from Russia's mainland.

Karaliaučius in Lithuanian, Królewiec in Polish, Koenigsberg in German, Kaliningrad in Russian – this city has tried a lot of names throughout its twisted history. One of the oldest cities in Europe, Kaliningrad is one of the youngest in Russia. 

It became a part of the Soviet Union after the Second World War, as a result of peace settlement agreements.

Nowadays, Kaliningrad is cut off from the rest of the country. A part of Europe in Russia, the Kaliningrad region borders Lithuania – a former Soviet republic -and Poland – a former member of the Warsaw Pact. 

Currently all the region’s neighbours are members of NATO.

Besides, Poland is also going to become a part of the U.S. missile defence system with ten interceptors deployed on its territory. 

While the U.S. says the system will target possible threats coming from Iran and North Korea, Russia sees it as a threat to its own national security.

“The centre of Europe has always been like a comfortable zone, with a minimum of military presence. What we see right now is the escalation of a new arms race. Naturally, Russia will react strongly to the American move, and we will become hostages of one country’s desire for the world domination,” believes Viktoria Chernova, Editor-in Chief of the local paper Kaliningrdskaya Vecherka. 

President Putin has offered Washington an option to share missile defence systems in Azerbaijan and in the south of Russia. The initiative was welcomed, but the U.S. said it cannot be an alternative.

Acting Deputy Prime Minister, Sergey Ivanov, warned recently that Russian medium-range missiles might be deployed in Kaliningrad as a response to the U.S. missile defence plans.

Meanwhile, Russian officials say they are keeping the door open for dialogue, waiting for a move from their Western partners.