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Russian diplomat slams US statement on ‘cracking’ Kaliningrad defense as irresponsible

Every step in the Persian Gulf should be legally justified, says Russian diplomat
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
© Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS

MOSCOW, September 20. /TASS/. Moscow considers US statements about the possibility of breaking down Kaliningrad’s air defense as irresponsible threats, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Friday.

"First, we consider them as threats. Second, we consider such statements to be totally irresponsible. And third, we can see how easily the political elites, particularly in the US, handle serious and very complicated matters such as global security and stability," she said. "I would like to reiterate that they are acting in an irresponsible manner, based on short-term political interests, which, as far as we understand, involve electoral processes," Zakharova added.

‘Mock missile attack’ on Kaliningrad

The National Interest reported earlier, citing independent analyst Steffan Watkins, that a "non-nuclear-capable B-52… flew a mock cruise-missile attack on Kaliningrad on March 14, 2019." According to Watkins, the aircraft took off from Louisiana’s Barksdale Air Force Base in the US and "conducted a mock nuclear cruise missile strike on the Russian Federation, only turning around 60 nautical miles from Russian airspace" and landing at Royal Air Force Fairford in the United Kingdom.

"The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which lies between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea and is geographically separate from the rest of Russia, practically bristles with S-300 and S-400 air-defense missiles, Oniks anti-ship missiles and Iskander surface-to-surface missiles," the article said, adding that "US forces believe they know how to crack Kaliningrad," according to Commander of US Air Forces in Europe General Jeff Harrigan.

Kaliningrad Governor Anton Alikhanov said, commenting on the National Interest article, that the United States should refrain from plotting to attack the exclave because the technological prowess and morale of the troops deployed there empowered it to fight off any adversary.

Russia’s Defense Ministry, in turn, said in a statement that Kaliningrad’s air defenses were capable of repelling air attacks from the United States, including those involving fifth generation fighter jets. The ministry pointed out that "all NATO pilots who happened to conduct flights near Russia’s airspace in the Baltic region are well aware" of the technological capacity of Kaliningrad’s air defenses, including the ability to detect and, if necessary, destroy air targets.

US activities in the Persian Gulf

Every step taken by the United States and allies in the Gulf should be legally justified and facilitate to stabilization in the region, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told the briefing.

The diplomat commented on the US’ measures aimed at creating a coalition to patrol the Gulf.

"We proceed from the fact that all the steps made in that region should pursue the main goal of stabilizing the situation," she noted.

"Regrettably, the policy of the United States and some other countries cannot bring about this outcome, but can trigger an opposite one. There is no additional stability or stabilization of the situation, except destabilization, so every measure should, firstly, have the legal basis, and secondly, should pursue the main goal of easing tensions in the region and stabilization," she added.

In the wake of a worsening standoff with Iran after the incidents in the Strait of Hormuz, the United States called on its allies to set up a coalition to secure shipping in the Persian Gulf region, according to Washington. Up to now, Australia, Bahrain, the UK, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have said they are joining the US-led maritime coalition. According to unofficial sources, a force of about 55 ships is expected to start patrolling the region this November.

US efforts to hamper UN resolution on Idlib

The United States put pressure on members of the UN Security Council to bring debates on a draft resolution on a ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib to a deadlock, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated.

"When the draft resolution was in the works, the Russian delegation put forward meaningful amendments to make sure that the ceasefire wouldn’t apply to terrorists. However, these amendments were ignored, as the document’s authors were unwilling to continue working on a consensus wording," she said. "According to the information available to us, US representatives put pressure on the Security Council’s members to bring consultations on a resolution to a deadlock," the Russian diplomat added.

At the UN Security Council’s meeting on Thursday, Russia and China vetoed a resolution on Idlib drafted by Belgium, Germany and Kuwait.

The document urged the parties to the conflict to stop hostile activities and called for punishing those responsible for violating humanitarian law in Idlib. Western countries have repeatedly accused Russian and Syrian air forces of carrying out deliberate airstrikes on humanitarian facilities in Idlib province. Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya rejected those accusations, presenting satellite photos of undamaged facilities said to have been targeted.

Humanitarian troika’s resolution on Idlib

The draft resolution on ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib province, proposed by the "humanitarian troika" (Belgium, Germany and Kuwait) in the UN Security Council would in fact throw a protective veil over the terrorists and ignore efforts exerted by the Astana group (Russia, Iran and Turkey), Maria Zakharova told the news briefing.

"There was a provocative attempt to remove from the line of fire the terrorist organizations that rule the roost in Idlib and enjoy lavish support from abroad. In reality this has nothing to do with taking care of the civilian population, which keeps suffering from the preponderance of terrorists," she said. "The authors of the draft ignored the fact that a number of such organizations were recognized as terrorist by UN Security Council resolutions. Moreover, the Security Council itself called for waging an uncompromising struggle against them."

"The draft laid the basis for groundlessly accusing the Syrian authorities and Russian military of violating international humanitarian law and threatened with further measures in case of ceasefire violations. In other words, it ruled out any chance to strike back in retaliation for terrorists’ ever more frequent attacks," Zakharova said. "The draft totally ignored the efforts for a political settlement in Syria exerted by the troika of Astana guarantors — Russia, Iran and Turkey."

The initiative proposed by Belgium, Germany and Kuwait was "evidence of the intention to use humanitarian aspects for political purposes, to perpetuate division lines in sovereign Syria and protect extremists from utter defeat by creating their enclave in the northwest of the country," she stated.