Russia has deployed three fighter jets, armed with hypersonic missiles, to the Kaliningrad exclave. The MiG-31I aircraft carrying Kinzhal missiles are stationed at the Chkalovsk base in Kaliningrad, the defense ministry said in Moscow on Thursday. Accordingly, they form a combat unit there that is “on standby 24 hours a day”.
Like the zircon missiles, the Kinzhal missiles belong to a new type of weapon developed by Russia that President Vladimir Putin has described as “invincible”. According to Russia, it has already used the hypersonic missiles several times as part of its offensive in Ukraine, which began in late February.
Tensions with Lithuania
The deployment of the Kinzhal missiles in Kaliningrad took place amid tensions over recent months over trade between Russia and its exclave. This traffic runs through the territory of the EU Member State Lithuania.
In June, Lithuania banned the transit of certain goods from the main Russian territory to Kaliningrad. The government in Vilnius referred to the EU sanctions against Russia. However, in mid-July, the European Commission made it clear that there was no general ban on the transport of goods to Kaliningrad by train, only the transit of sanctioned military equipment was prohibited. Lithuania then allowed the blocked goods traffic again.
Kaliningrad – the former East Prussian Königsberg – is located on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Poland and has no direct land connection with Russia.