Russia on Thursday moved three warplanes equipped with hypersonic missiles to its enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea coast.
Wedged between EU and NATO members Lithuania and Poland, which have staunchly supported Ukraine in the conflict with Moscow, the heavily militarized region of Kaliningrad does not share a land border with Russia.
On Thursday, “three Mig-31i aircraft equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles were moved to Chkalovsk airfield in the Kaliningrad region,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
He said they would be on “24-hour combat duty”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who unveiled the Kinzhal missile in 2018, called it an “ideal weapon” that flies at 10 times the speed of sound, making it extremely difficult to intercept missile defenses.
In June, Russia clashed with Lithuania after Vilnius banned rail transit of sanctioned goods from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad.
The EU, however, said Lithuania must allow transit of Russian goods, except weapons.
Seized by Germany’s Red Army in the final stages of World War II, Kaliningrad was separated from the Russian mainland after the breakup of the Soviet Union when Lithuania became an independent state.