According to the pro-regime Russian newspaper Izvestia, Russia has missiles with a range of hundreds of kilometers to the borders of Poland and Lithuania. The missiles were moved “some time” ago, according to Izvestia, and one of Izvestia‘s sources pegs the length of time at approximately 18 months. Izvestia reported on the missiles only after Bild, a German newspaper, reported on the presence of Islander-M missiles near Poland. Latvia’s defense minister, Artis Pabriks, said, “We have followed these events for quite some time, and this is not a surprise for us…It creates unnecessary political tension and suspicions and reduces mutual trust because we don’t see reason why Russians would need such weapons here. I think it’s just to show who is the boss in the region.”
The Russians state that the presence of the missiles does not violate international agreements. But Russia’s neighbors are certainly worried: “We are worried about the militarization of Kaliningrad region and modernization of its weaponry,” said defense minister of Lithuania Juozas Olekas.
President Obama infamously informed then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the run-up to the election of 2012 that after his re-election, he would have more flexibility. In 2009, the Obama administration cancelled US interceptor sites and radars in Poland and the Czech Republic, prompting consternation. In 2012, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said, “Our mistake was that by accepting the American offer of a [missile defense] shield we failed to take into account the political risk associated with a change of president….We paid a high political price. We do not want to make the same mistake again. We must have a missile system as an element of our defences.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.