Russia reportedly sent three planes with hypersonic missiles to an enclave between two NATO members for round-the-clock combat duty amid war fears between alliance and president Vladimir Poutinethe army.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday that MiG-31 aircraft are now based at the Chkalovsk airfield in the Kaliningrad region “as part of the implementation of additional strategic deterrence measures”, the Russian Federation reported. Russian news agency Ria Novosti.
This means that the planes, equipped with their Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, are now close to NATO borders. Kaliningradwhich shares no border with Russia but is still part of its territory, is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, a NATO country.
Putin did not publicly announce his intention to attack NATO, but he warned that all countries which “create a strategic threat to Russia” during the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war can expect “retaliatory strikes”. Russian state television and the Russian president’s allies have repeatedly lobbied for a confrontation with NATO and even nuclear strikes against the alliance, the growing fears of a nuclear war which Science project could kill billions.
According the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-profit organization based in Washington DC, the hypersonic Kinzhal missiles that accompany the MiG-31s in Kaliningrad are nuclear-capable and air-launched. In 2018, Russia would have sent Iskander missilescapable of carrying nuclear warheads, in Kaliningrad.
As Russia builds up its presence of nuclear-capable weapons in Kaliningrad, NATO is working to strengthen and protect its eastern flank. Last week, the US mission to NATO announced that soldiers from a US air assault division arrived in Europe at the end of July were sent to NATO members Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia to “reassure our allies and deter our adversaries”.
This month, NATO announced that its surveillance aircraft and combat aircraft were patrolling 24 hours a day protect the airspace of member countries. The alliance shared a video on Twitter which explained that it was working to protect the skies of its allies in Eastern Europe “with more aircraft flying from airbases and aircraft carriers across the alliance” and by “bringing additional deterrence and defence”.
The video said NATO was providing a “constant defensive presence and monitoring the airspace” over Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, which are all on or near NATO’s eastern flank near Russia. Estonia and Latvia share borders with Russia.
Newsweek contacted the Russian Ministry of Defense and NATO for comments.