Russia is upgrading a nuclear weapons storage facility in its Kaliningrad enclave, new evidence published on Monday suggests.
A report from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) shows photos of the storage facility in Kaliningrad fitted with a new roof.
“It has all the fingerprints of typical Russian nuclear weapons storage sites,” Hans Kristensen, the director of the nuclear information project at FAS, told the Guardian.
“There is a heavy duty external perimeter of multilayered fencing,” he continued. “The bunkers themselves have triple fencing around them as well. These are typical features from all the other nuclear weapons storage sites that we know about in Russia.”
Russia upgrading nuclear weapons storage bunker in Kaliningrad. Story by @julianborger in @guardian https://t.co/oX1m5l1Uih My original story with satellite photo analysis is here https://t.co/O5bmxihIW2 pic.twitter.com/H64ONhHR62
— Hans Kristensen (@nukestrat) June 18, 2018
Work on extending the bunker reportedly started in 2016, while the construction of a new room began this summer.
“It’s a site we have been monitoring for quite some time and there have been and there have been some upgrades in the past but nothing as dramatic as this one,” Kristensen said. “This is the first time we’ve seen one of the nuclear bunkers being excavated and apparently renovated.”
“These pictures don’t prove that there are nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad now, but they do show it is an active site,” he added.
It is not known whether it already has warheads stationed within the facility or whether there are plans to place them in the future, but the photos reportedly prove that the area is active.
Kaliningrad, which is located in its own Baltic coast enclave between Poland and Lithuania, is seen as a crucial military position for Russian leader Vladimir Putin as he seeks to push back against NATO and European Union expansion towards the east. The area is also used as a base for Russia’s Baltic Naval fleet.
The area is also currently in the world’s eye as the host of multiple games at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where four group games will be played.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 27, 2017
In March, Putin claimed that NATO would be unable to intercept a new range of Russian nuclear weapons, including nuclear-powered cruise missiles and underwater drones, as well as a new hypersonic missile.
“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: all that you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened,” Putin declared at the time. “You have failed to contain Russia.”
“No one has listened to us,” he added. “You listen to us now.”