21 Oct 2019 12:21

NATO concerned about Iskander systems' deployment in Kaliningrad region - Gottemoeller

MOSCOW. Oct 21 (Interfax) - NATO is concerned about the deployment of Iskander missile systems, which may be armed with nuclear warheads, in the Kaliningrad region, U.S. diplomat and former NATO deputy secretary general Rose Gottemoeller said in an interview published by the newspaper Kommersant on Monday

Iskander systems, which could have both conventional and nuclear warheads, have already been deployed within range of NATO targets, in particular, in the Kaliningrad region, Gottemoeller said.

She said that they travel faster than Tomahawks, and NATO is concerned about this situation.

Gottemoeller said she regrets that Russia never issued drill notifications to NATO in the context of the 2011 Vienna Document on confidence building and security measures.

NATO always welcomed Russian briefings on upcoming exercises, which took place at the NATO-Russia Council, because such notifications were useful, Gottemoeller said. NATO considers the confidence building and transparency measures required by the 2011 Vienna Document to be most efficient, she said.

However, Russia never informs NATO about exercises within the framework of this mechanism because the number of participating troops allegedly never exceeds the limit of 13,000, Gottemoeller said, adding that Russia held a series of major exercises over the three years of her tenure at NATO but not a single notice was issued in the context of the Vienna Document.

As to whether NATO plans to again allow an increase in the number of personnel of the Russian mission to the Alliance, some of whom were expelled over Moscow's alleged involvement in the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury, Gottemoeller said the question amused her, considering that NATO kept asking Russian partners when the new Russian permanent representative to NATO might arrive and Russia kept saying that nothing was happening on this front and there was no need to send the new ambassador.

It is senseless to increase the size of the mission under such circumstances, Gottemoeller said.