The Russian Defense Ministry has rejected US criticism over its plans to deploy ballistic missiles along the country’s border regions with Lithuania and Poland.
On Tuesday, US State Department spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby said that the deployment of Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems and Iskander tactical missile system to Kaliningrad "is destabilizing to European security."
Kaliningrad is located between Lithuania from the north and east and Poland from the south.
Following the US’s remarks, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said that it is in fact the US who is endangering regional security by saturating Europe with arms and missiles. "A real security threat today is posed not by Russia but by Europe’s saturation with armaments and servicemen of far from European origin."
He also referred to the construction of US missile facilities in Poland and Romania and NATO’s upcoming deployment of US troops in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, and future plans to deploy US marines to Russia’s neighbor Norway.
"One shouldn’t be a rear admiral to understand a simple thing: all current threats to European security are a consequence of the US military policy implemented in the past 10 years," Konashenkov added, stressing that, “the Kaliningrad Region is an integral part of the Russian Federation."
“Security provision in the Russian Federation is the prerogative of only the leadership of our country. That is why, you’d better keep for yourselves all the claims and wishes about where, when, with what means and how we must ensure our security on our territory," he stressed.
Earlier in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it is well within Russia’s rights to safeguard its borders against NATO’s buildup.
"Russia is doing its utmost to ensure its security amid NATO’s expansion towards its borders. The alliance is indeed an aggressive bloc, so Russia is doing everything it can in that regard. In this case it has all sovereign rights to take all necessary steps on its territory," he said.
The S-400 missile system is Russia's most modern air defense system. It can track and target some 300 targets and shoot down some three dozen simultaneously over a range of several hundred kilometers.
Russia and NATO have been at odds over an array of issues, including the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
The US-led military alliance has been deploying troops and equipment close to Russia’s borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014. NATO suspended ties with Moscow after the Crimean peninsula integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum in March 2014.
The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and have imposed a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow, however, rejects the allegation.