Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Growing Importance Of Kaliningrad For The Russian Military

Elisabeth Braw, Newsweek: Weapons Flood Into Putin's European Arms Depot

While the world watched Russia’s North Fleet with trepidation as it launched surprise exercises near the Arctic Circle last week, Vladimir Putin has quietly been arming another area inside Europe’s borders: Kaliningrad, the Russian seaport city in a region sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, with convenient access to the Baltic Sea. Vessels from Russia’s Baltic Fleet have delivered fighter jets and Iskander missile launchers to the former German city, from where missiles could reach not just to Warsaw and Vilnius but Germany as well.

Sources say that, with sea transport neither quick nor easy to organise, it’s clear the Russian armed forces had planned the recent delivery for some time. Indeed, the Russian army has spent the past several years equipping its Baltic territory with state-of-the-art weaponry. Regional security officials now call Kaliningrad a veritable arms depot. “The Russian armed forces have, for example, installed new S-400 [anti-aircraft missiles] there, which have an incredibly long range,” says Johan Wiktorin, a Swedish former military intelligence officer and author of the 2013 book Korridoren till Kaliningrad (The Corridor to Kaliningrad). The arming of Kaliningrad forms part of a 19-trillion-rouble (€296bn) plan to increase the share of modern weapons in the Russian armed forces’ arsenal from 10% to 70%.

Update #1: Russia is putting state-of-the-art missiles in its westernmost Baltic enclave -- AP
Update #2: Russia controls this vital strategic enclave in the heart of NATO-allied eastern Europe -- Business Insider

WNU Editor: The economy in Kaliningard is also booming. Russia made Kaliningrad a free-trade zone a number of years ago .... and no surprise, it's economy has been growing ever since.

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