Moscow says it will deploy its S-400 air missile defense system along with Iskander ballistic missile in Russia’s westernmost region of Kaliningrad, near the border with the Baltic countries of Lithuania and Poland and NATO member states.
“Russia sees the deployment of its missiles near the western border as a response to Washington setting up a US missile shield in Europe,” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Viktor Ozerov, the head of the defense committee in the Russian upper house of parliament, as saying on Monday.
The S-400 missile system is Russia’s most modern air defense system. It can track some 300 targets and shoot down around three dozen simultaneously over a range of several hundred kilometers.
Kaliningrad is sandwiched between Lithuania from the north and east and Poland from the south. The Baltic Sea is on the region’s west.
Russia has deployed the systems to the region more than once. Poland and Lithuania have expressed concern about the move.
Russia to respond to NATO expansion
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Moscow would take countermeasures in response to NATO expansion.
“Why are we reacting to NATO expansion so emotionally? We are concerned by NATO’s decision making,” Putin said in an interview to be broadcast on Russian TV later on Monday.
Russia and NATO have been at odds over an array of issues, including the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
The US-led military alliance has been deploying troops and equipment close to Russia’s borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014. NATO suspended ties with Moscow after the Crimean peninsula integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum in March 2014.
The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and have imposed a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow, however, rejects the allegation.