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MOSCOW, November 30 (Itar-Tass) — On Tuesday, a new radar station “Voronezh-DM”, covering the entire territory of Europe and the Atlantic, was put on combat duty in Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad region, in the presence of President Dmitry Medvedev. And after a meeting with the leadership of the armed forces the president explained frankly that the early opening of the station is a response to the deployment of the missile defence system in Europe, and also threatened that the deployment of “other counter forces, including strike groups” may be carried out in response to further actions.
The radar of the Voronezh-DM project is not new for Russia, writes the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily. Two stations – in the Leningrad region and in Armavir – are already on duty within the missile attack warning system. However, the Kaliningrad radar has a special role and place in this system, because scans Europe for 6,000 kilometres inside, covering the entire continent, and also the Atlantic Ocean. The radar can simultaneously keep track of up to 500 objects.
The new station, the newspaper notes, is Russia’s first symmetrical step in response to US and NATO plans to deploy a missile defence system in Europe. The President on November 23 said in a special address that Russia was forced to take action. One such measure was early commissioning of the Kaliningrad radar, which so far was planned to be on the test alert.
It may not be the only step by Russia in the restoration of parity in the event of the European missile defence system deployment in the form the United States sees it at present, the government publication says. In any case, the Russian leader again talked about the likelihood of deploying a strike group to counter the missile defence system on the western borders of our country. “If our signal is not heard, as I said on November 23, we will deploy other defence means, including taking tough countermeasures and deploying a strike group,” Medvedev warned.
The commander of the RF Aerospace Defence Forces, Oleg Ostapenko, who carefully watched the president’s actions during the radar switch to a new work mode, assured reporters that in case of emergence of real threats to the country the Aerospace Defence Forces are ready to respond, Kommersant writes. According to him, the Kaliningrad radar station can attain full capacity before 2014, if need be.
The publication’s Kremlin source did not rule out that the negotiations on the missile defence issue with the Western countries and NATO will be continued by the end of the year. This question, according to the source, will be also discussed at the Russia-EU summit in Brussels, which Dmitry Medvedev will attend on December 14-15.
Moskovsky Komsomolets cites the president as saying that the radar itself does not pose a threat to neighbouring countries. Meanwhile, the missile and space defence troops are confident that the Russian radar is “cooler” than the American. “When during an experiment, tennis balls were launched into space, the smallest of them [five cm in diameter] was detected only by our system – boasts a source of the publication. “The Americans have failed.”
The president’s visit, apparently, was not only of military nature, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta. This seems to be the last attempt to change the mood of the local electorate five days before the elections. The popularity of the United Russia in the region is not too high.
In an interview with the publication a well-known Kaliningrad oppositionist, an independent deputy of the regional Duma (legislature) Solomon Ginzburg called the president’s visit an election show. In his opinion, another failure of Russian diplomacy turns a nearly million-strong population of the Kaliningrad region into the primary target for NATO missiles.