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5th Mar 2024

Russia shelves plans to point missiles at EU

  • The main square in the Kaliningrad capital: Russia's outpost inside the EU (Photo: EUobserver)

Russia is shelving plans to put short-range rockets inside its EU exclave in response to US hesitation on extending its global missile shield to Poland and the Czech Republic.

"The implementation of these [Russian] plans has been halted in connection with the fact the new US administration is not rushing through plans to deploy [the missile shield]," an unnamed military official told Russian state news agency Interfax on Wednesday (28 January) morning.

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Moscow last year said it would put batteries of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad - a piece of Russian territory surrounded by Lithuania, Poland and the Baltic Sea - raising fears of a new Cold War.

The conventional rockets have a range of 400 km, enabling them to hit targets to within five metres of accuracy in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and the fringes of Germany and Sweden.

The Barack Obama administration has not officially stopped US plans to build a new missile base in Poland and a radar installation in the Czech Republic.

But the new president's Pentagon team has said the US will "review" the effectiveness of the multi-billion euro installations, amid a deepening economic crisis in both the US and Europe.

The US bases are said to combat an emerging ballistic missile threat from Iran. But Russia claims they would work against its nuclear deterrent.

Russia-Poland ties are also on the mend after the post-Kaczynski twin Polish government since late 2007 stopped publicly criticising the Kremlin at every opportunity.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Polish leader Donald Tusk are to hold a bilateral meeting on Thursday at the Davos economic forum in Switzerland to talk about the recent gas crisis.

Meanwhile, a new CVVM opinion poll in the Czech Republic shows that 65 percent of people oppose the US missile shield scheme and that 70 percent want a referendum on the topic.

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