Bildt plays down Russian nuclear threat

Bildt plays down Russian nuclear threat
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has played down the significance of reports that Russia is considering arming its Baltic fleet with nuclear warheads.

The foreign minister said Sweden was already aware of Russia’s nuclear capacity in the region prior to the reports.

“According to the information to which we have access, there are already tactical nuclear weapons in the Kaliningrad area. They are located both at and in the vicinity of units belonging to the Russia fleet,” Bildt told the TT news agency.

Bildt’s comments came after a senior Russian military source told The Sunday Times that Russia was planning to equip its Kaliningrad-based naval fleet with nuclear warheads for the first time since the Cold War.

“This is no surprise even if there are not press releases being sent out about it on a daily basis. But it is worrying from our point of view in a more general sense that nuclear weapons still play a major role in the overall Russian doctrine,” said Bildt.

The Sunday Times’ source said the Kaliningrad fleet had suffered from a lack of funding since the end of the Cold War but that this would now change.

The small enclave of Kaliningrad is located between Poland and Lithuania, both of which are members of the European Union and Nato.

“In view of America’s determination to set up a missile defence shield in Europe, the military is reviewing all its plans to give Washington an adequate response,” said the Russian military source.

Russian General Anatoly Nogovitsyn told the Interfax news agency late last week that Poland was “making itself a target” for a nuclear strike by agreeing to host a US anti-missile shield within its borders.