Kaliningrad photos appear to show Russia upgrading nuclear weapons bunker
Russia Kaliningrad photos appear to show Russia upgrading nuclear weapons bunker
Satellite images from Baltic outpost and World Cup venue are latest sign of Russian emphasis on nuclear arms
Russia appears to have upgraded a nuclear weapons storage bunker in its Kaliningrad enclave, in the latest sign of Moscowâs increased emphasis on nuclear arms in its standoff with Nato, according to a new report.
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) will publish satellite images on Monday which the group says show a storage facility in the Baltic coast enclave between Poland and Lithuania being deepened and then covered with a new concrete roof in recent months.
âIt has all the fingerprints of typical Russian nuclear weapons storage sites,â said Hans Kristensen, the director of the nuclear information project at FAS. âThere is a heavy duty external perimeter of multilayered fencing. The bunkers themselves have triple fencing around them as well. These are typical features from all the other nuclear weapons storage sites that we know about in Russia.âPutin's nuclear slideshow reveals Russia's naked ambitions Read more
The work on the bunker began in 2016, and the new roof was put on earlier in the summer.
âIts a site we have been moni toring for quite some time and there have been and there have been some upgrades in the past but nothing as dramatic as this one. This is the first time weâve seen one of the nuclear bunkers being excavated and apparently renovated,â Kristensen said.
âThese pictures donât prove that there are nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad now, but they do show it is an active site,â Kristensen said.
He said it was unclear whether the Russian military already had nuclear warheads at the site, or that they are about to bring them in or whether the facility was being upgraded so that nuclear weapons could be moved in at short notice.
Kaliningrad, formerly the East Prussian outpost of KÃ¶nigsberg, is currently in the public eye as one of the venues for the football World Cup. It is also emerging as a critical square on the east European chessboard in Vladimir Putinâs efforts to push back assertively against Nato expansion.
The Russian military announced in January this year that the necessary infrastructure had been built to accommodate a permanent presence of mobile Iskander-M missiles, capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads a range of 500 km. The missiles were due to be combat ready early this year.Kaliningrad: the Russian enclave with a taste for Europe Read more
The US says that because of th eir range, the Iskanders represent a violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty.
Kaliningrad also serves as a base for Russiaâs Baltic fleet.
Unlike Nato, the Russian military, particularly its navy, has kept many of its tactical weapons systems nuclear capable, including anti-ship missiles, short range land-attack missiles and even air defences.
As tensions with the west have escalated over Ukraine and Syria, Vladimir Putin has put more emphasis on Russiaâs nuclear arsenal. In March this year, Putin unveiled a range of new nuclear weapon designs which he claimed could overcome any western defences.
Kristensen said it was unclear what kind of warheads, the renovated bunker in Kaliningrad is meant to serve, but it is much closer to the naval base that the missile base, which is further inland.Topics
- Nuclear weapons
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