Poland to station HIMARS near Russian border
US-made HIMARS rocket launchers will be stationed on the border with Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad Region, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced on Friday.
The American multiple rocket launchers will be deployed with Poland’s 16th Mechanized division in the North-Eastern city of Olsztyn, Blaszczak revealed, during a visit to the region. He boasted that Washington had already approved Warsaw’s order for 500 more HIMARS launchers, noting how important they were to the Polish army.
Blaszczak also claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was building an "evil empire" and would attack his neighbors.
The deployment of the American weapons on the Russian border was decried as "saber-rattling" by Kaliningrad government spokesman Dmitry Lyskov in a comment to TASS. He added that "disregarding the clear offensive nature of the HIMARS launchers … the people of the region are under the protection of the Baltic Fleet detachments and Russia’s army in general."
The buildup of American weapons around Kaliningrad has increased recently. In December the Pentagon approved $28 billion worth of arms deals, with Poland and the Baltic states being the biggest buyers. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov also claimed in January that the UK had been modeling cyberstrikes specifically against the Kaliningrad government.
Moscow has continuously warned NATO against increasing its military presence on Russia's borders and becoming a party to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Kaliningrad Region is Russia’s westernmost territory and the headquarters of Russia’s Baltic Fleet. The region is an exclave, not sharing a land border with the rest of Russia, instead flanked by Poland on the West and Lithuania to the East. Formerly known as East Prussia, it was incorporated by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.