Poland sees threat as Russia reinforces its Baltic Fleet stationed in Kaliningrad

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Russia has been modernizing its Baltic Fleet throughout 2020 with its newest technology in all military sectors. Russian journal Izvestia writes that the Kaliningrad “oblast” was of significant importance to the Russian Federation due to neighboring states which “conduct anti-Russian policies”. “The politicians of these countries often speak of annexing our Western oblast or at least forcing Russia to reduce or even dismantling the defense of the Baltic foothold,” the paper wrote. In truth, it is Russia, however, who has been sending new equipment to the Kaliningrad oblast to strengthen its land and naval forces for the past year.

The official publication of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Krasnaya Zvezda, underlined that no other Russian fleet has as strong a defense at the coast as the Baltic Fleet. As early as late 2019, the Smerch RS30 artillery systems were deployed in Kaliningrad, replacing the older Grad systems. Russia explained its action back then that this was a response to NATO strengthening its forces in the Baltic States. Russia has also announced it is beefing up its Baltic Fleet. According to Izvestia, in 2021, a division of the costal missile defense system Bastion will be deployed in the region. Bastion is equipped with Onyx anti-ship missiles whose range is up to 600 kilometers according to Russian sources. Bastion therefore has a higher ranger than the land-based Iskander system. Both Smerch and Bastion, according to the Russian paper, are able to neutralize the medium-range missiles located in Poland and Lithuania. Encyclopedia Britannica The Kaliningrad “oblast” is of significant importance to the Russian Federation due to strategic location between Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic Sea. Russia is also modernizing its mechanized forces in the region. By the end of 2020, the Baltic Fleet army corps received 30 rearmed T-72B3M tanks. Compared to the basic version, the tanks have improved armor, better maneuverability and bigger firepower, as evidenced by the new 125 mm cannon equipped with a ballistic computer and Sosna-U scope. The tanks also feature improved engines.

According to Russian sources, the T-72B3Ms are able to efficiently combat other armed vehicles, landing ships and even helicopters. In December 2020, the Baltic Fleet also added the large landing ship “Pyotr Morgunov” to its arsenal. It has the ability to securely hold 13 tanks or over 30 armed vehicles on board. It is designed for transport and landing and can transfer even up to 300 marines. The small Odincovo missile ship was also added to the Baltic Fleet in November 2020, a much better equipped version of the 22800 Karakurt project of which the Fleet already had two units. The last new unit added to the Baltic Fleet was the high-speed amphibious assault boat 02510 BK-16 produced by Kalashnikov. The main mission of such units is diversion on coastal waters and rivers. The naval air force was also modernized in 2020 with the new Sukhoi Su-30 multirole fighter aircraft, which replaced the outdated Su-27 models. The new planes have an operating range exceeding 3,000 kilometers which means that all Baltic countries and Poland are within reach of the aircraft. In September 2020, the main base of the Baltic Fleet in Baltiysk had also begun its modernization process. The base will now be able to operate modern ships equipped with cruise missiles.

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