Russia is sharply upgrading the firepower of its Baltic Fleet by adding warships armed with long-range cruise missiles to counter NATO’s build-up in the region, Russian media reported on Wednesday.
There was no official confirmation from Moscow, but Reuters says the reports will raise tensions in the Baltic, already heightened since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and cause particular alarm in Poland and Lithuania which border Russia’s base there.
The reported deployment comes as NATO is planning its biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War to deter possible Russian aggression.
Russia’s daily Izvestia newspaper cited a military source as saying that the first two of five ships, the Serpukhov and the Zeleny Dol, had already entered the Baltic Sea and would soon become part of a newly formed division in Kaliningrad, Russia’s European exclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.
Another source familiar with the situation told the Interfax news agency that the two warships would be joining the Baltic Fleet in the coming days.