Russia has moved ballistic missiles to and conducted nuclear strike drills from its Kaliningrad exclave [sic], prompting Pentagon fears that Moscow could block access to the Baltic Sea.
There is a “significant amount of capability” in Kaliningrad, including anti-ship weapons, air defenses, and electronic warfare equipment, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, said Wednesday.
“They could make it very difficult for any of us to get up into the Baltic Sea if we needed to in a contingency,” Hodges said in a briefing at the Pentagon.
Russia has conducted what NATO commanders call “snap exercises”: large-scale drills that are not announced and use sophisticated arms. When NATO holds drills of similar size, Russian observers are invited and typically attend. But NATO officials are not invited to Russian’s snap exercises held in Kaliningrad and nearby Belarus.
“We find out about them when they’re happening,” Hodges said.
“We have seen them do exercises where … there’s a nuclear strike,” Hodges said. “They don’t [say] gray land, and silver land, or red land, or stuff like that. They say ‘NATO is the adversary’ when they do their exercises. I mean, they’re pretty blunt about that.”
Earlier this year, Russia warned Denmark that Danish ships could become nuclear targets if its government took part in a NATO missile defense project. Hodges called those threats an “irresponsible use of the ‘nuclear’ word.”
“You can understand why our allies on the eastern flank of NATO, particularly in the Baltic region are nervous, are uneasy,” he said.
Full article: Russia Could Block Access to Baltic Sea, US General Says (Defense One)