Russian president Dimitry Medvedev has surprisingly chosen Barak Obama's poltitical victory, yesterday, for announcing his response to the U.S. missile defense system in Europe. The new sounds from Moscow must certainly come with the backing of Russia's real power base, Vladimir Putin, who apparently wishes to issue a clear warning to Washington's new commander in chief, that things are indeed changing.
According to a Moscow newspaper, the Russian Army will deploy Iskander-M ballistic missiles to the Kaliningrad Region, in response to the planned US anti-missile defense in nearby Poland. Three regiments of the elite Guard Missile 152nd Brigade, part of Russian's strategic forces, will relocate from Kaluga to Chernyakhovsk ( formerly Insterburg), not far from the Polish border. The brigade was equipped, until recently with the now obsolete RS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile ( NATO classification SS-19 Stiletto) with range over 10,000km.
The mobile Iskander-M (NATO classification SS-26 Stone) is intended to hit objects on land deep within the opponent’s battle order. Two missiles are mounted on a single 9P78 launcher. They have a range of 50-280 km. and a payload mass of 480 kg.
The intended placement of Iskanders in a special district of Kaliningrad was already announced in July of last year by First Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov, but the challenge to Washington is crystal clear. The deployed missiles will be able to reach practically any point in Poland, where ten American antimissile missiles are planned to be placed. The Kremlin's warning may well cause the American leadership reconsider it's intentions, to deploy missiles to Eastern Europe, which were regarded as a questionable move by many military experts.