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    Russia's soldiers stand guard near Russia's air defence system S-400

    Why All the Fuss About S-400 Air Defense System in Russia's Kaliningrad?

    © AFP 2019 / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV
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    The US military leadership might maintain that Russia's advanced weapons systems in Kaliningrad, including the S-400 air defense complex, is a matter of concern, but Moscow is guided by a desire to protect its exclave on the Baltic Sea at a time when the US and NATO forces are increasingly active in the region.

    On Monday, the commander of the United States Air Force in Europe, Gen. Frank Gorenc, described Russia's deployment of military hardware in Kaliningrad as a "very serious" development in an interview with the New York Times. Although the general mentioned that the Russians "have every right to lay that stuff out," he also noted that the US would "continue to monitor" the situation.

    Gen. Gorenc has made similar comments before. In December, he told the Stars and Stripes newspaper that "the proliferation of A2/AD (anti-access/area denial) environments in Europe" was his number one concern, referring to Russian weapons in Crimea and Kaliningrad.

    "The complexities of those systems, the effectiveness of those systems … and the way that they've been layering them creates areas that are very tough to get into," he noted.

    Remarks like these are apparently meant to fuel concerns that Russia wants to make a military move in the Baltics or Eastern Europe, although Moscow has repeatedly stated that it does not intend to attack any country. They also help to increase defense spending and ensure NATO's military presence in all corners of Europe.

    The air-cushion small landing ship Mordovia and servicemen of coastal defence troops at the Baltic Fleets's range in Kaliningrad Region
    © Sputnik / Igor Zarembo
    The air-cushion small landing ship Mordovia and servicemen of coastal defence troops at the Baltic Fleets's range in Kaliningrad Region

    Defense analyst Dave Majumdar offered an alternative explanation behind Russia's rationale to send weapons to its exclave.

    "It's likely, then, that Russia is effectively fortifying the exclave in the off chance of a NATO attack on Kaliningrad. In that case, the military forces deployed there would have to hold out until Russian forces from the 'mainland' can relive those troops – which would have to come through Belarus and then punch through Lithuania," he wrote for the National Interest.

    The S-400 Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS)
    © Sputnik /
    The S-400 Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS)

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    NATO, military hardware, S-400, Europe, United States, Russia, Kaliningrad
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