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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 53, December 2000 - January 2001

Reports of Russian Nuclear Weapons Deployment in Kaliningrad

In early January, reports that Russia had moved tactical nuclear weapons into the Kaliningrad region caused considerable alarm amongst states in the area. The allegation surfaced in the Washington Times on January 3. The same day, an unnamed US official told Reuters: "Over the last six months, there has been some movement of tactical nuclear weapons into Kaliningrad - we don't know how many, we don't know what type, and we don't know why..." Another official added that the movement was baffling rather than threatening: "It's more a puzzlement as to why they're doing this, it's not a militarily significant move as far as we can tell..."

Russia quickly issued a series of angry denials, backed by numerous expressions of doubt from independent experts about the veracity of the claim. On January 6, President Putin complained: "It's rubbish... [T]here were no such weapons at naval facilities - including naval, ground and air force ones - and no such weapons have been delivered there." On January 4, Anatoly Lobsky, a spokesperson for the Russian Baltic Fleet, told reporters that the claim "doesn't correspond with reality": "The Baltic Sea has been declared a nuclear-free zone, and the Baltic Fleet unfailingly fulfils its commitments."

On January 7, Polish President Aleksandr Kwasniewski urged Russia to permit an inspection to clarify the situation: "In order to check the facts, to be sure, we count on [an] international inspection in cooperation with Russia... It is nothing extraordinary, such inspections are carried out regularly in various parts of the world..." earlier (January 4), Poland's Defence Minister, Bronislaw Komorowski, observed that the "problem is whether we can treat assurances that there are no nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad as credible..."

Reports: Russia moved nuclear weapons into Kaliningrad - US, Reuters, January 3; US - Russia moved weapons, Associated Press, January 3; US fears over Russia 'missiles on move', BBC News Online, January 4; Russia denies moving nuclear arms, Associated Press, January 4; Russia's neighbours concerned over nuclear report, Reuters, January 4; Russia dismisses fear of Baltic nuclear buildup, Reuters, January 4; Putin dismisses deploying nukes, Associated Press, January 6; Poland wants help with nukes check, Associated Press, January 7.

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.