Russia has deployed Iskander-M tactical missile systems in the Kaliningrad region. The move sparked tension in the Baltic States. On October 8, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “By the way, nobody made a big secret out of the transportation of the system onboard the freighter Ambal. I’ll say more – one Iskander system was deliberately exposed prior to the shipment to an American intelligence satellite, which was on its trajectory above [the region] – that was made in order to clarify [i.e.check out] certain parameters of this satellite.” He also added that the Russian side did not have long to wait since the US partners in their “exposure impulse” have confirmed everything that the Russians needed.
Konashenkov continued: “The Iskander ballistic missile system is mobile, as during the training process missile force units improve their skills year-round [which involves] covering major distances across Russian territory by various means: by air, by sea and by their own movement.”
Colonel–General (ret) Vladimir Shamanov, chair of the lower house Duma Defense and Security Committee, explained: “Those missiles will be, first and foremost, aimed at those objects, which disrupt the balance [of power in Europe] and which are or will be deployed in the framework of the (American) missile defense program.” He then lauded the system for its extraordinary accuracy.
This last point was disputed by Pavel Felgengauer, who is considered one of Russia’s most serious military experts. According to Felgengauer, since the Iskander –M launching platform can be used not only for ballistic missiles, but also for cruise ones (Kaliber –NK naval missiles, which have been adapted for the ground launching platform and have a range of 2500 km. He agrees with the Americans that this is an infringement of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, INF, which prohibits procurement and deployment of missiles with a range surpassing 500 km. Moscow coyly claims that their range is only 500 km. and therefore conform to the agreement but their range is four fold longer. The Russians reply that the American ABM system in Romania also surpasses 2000 km. This creates a serious threat that the INF treaty will disintegrate. According to Felgengauer, the rhetoric employed by the Russian General Staff, which implies that the American missile defense system in Europe endangers Russia could provoke a denunciation of the INF (Putin back in 2007 had called it a bad agreement). Then we will be back to the 1980s when both sides deployed intermediate range ballistic missiles in Europe (the so called European Missile Crisis)..
Full article: The Iskander-M Tactical Missile Systems In Kaliningrad — An Update (MEMRI)