Russia stationed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in its Kaliningrad region on Monday and intends to leave them there permanently, Lithuania's defense minister and the president said.
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"On Monday, Iskander missiles are being stationed in Kaliningrad for permanent presence as we speak (...). This is not just a threat to Lithuania but a half of all European countries," President Dalia Grybauskaitė told journalists in Rukla where she is attending an event to mark 1-year anniversary of the stationing of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Lithuania.

Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said Russia used to bring the missile complex to the region wedged between Lithuania and Poland for military drills only, however, "this time the situation is different – it is permanent stationing with all the necessary infrastructure in place."

"Iskander was to be unloaded in the Kaliningrad port at 12 p.m.," Karoblis said in Rukla.

Lithuania's intelligence agencies have said that placement of Iskander systems in Kaliningrad would be potentially more dangerous for Lithuania due to its capacity to hinder Allied actions in the region, while the complex is not needed for targets in Lithuania's territory, as theoretically they could be taken down by the existing capacities.

In response to the permanent stationing of Iskander in Kaliningrad, NATO should start preparations for neutralization of the capacities in the Russian region aimed at restricting the arrival of NATO Allies in the Baltic states in case of a conflict.

The president said the Alliance should make faster decisions, update contingency plans for the Baltic states, facilitate the movement of military troops in the region and ensure air defence.

Iskander is being stationed in Kaliningrad on Monday, the day Lithuania celebrates a year since the deployment of an international NATO battalion.

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