Kaliningrad Oblast is of great importance for the Russian Federation as a region bordering on countries pursuing ‘anti-Russian’ policies. Under the pretext of preventing annexation, or at least weakening of the defense of the Baltic outpost, Russia has created such a strong coastal defense in the Baltic that no other fleet of the Russian army has ever had.
Alexander Nosatov, Commander of the Baltic Fleet, told the Red Star army newspaper that military reinforcements were a response to NATO, accusing the Western military alliance of deployment of an armored unit and several multinational tactical and other storm troops nearby.
The region’s militarization comes as ties between Russia and the West have weakened since the end of the Cold War, with a series of actions from Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian Crimea in 2014 to accusations of hacking elections in the United States and Syria.
In 2019, the Russians deployed Smerch rocket artillery in Kaliningrad Oblast, which replaced the older Grad systems. In 2021, supersonic Bastion systems will be deployed there. They are equipped with anti-vessel Onix missiles, with, as Russian sources claim, 600-km range, which is longer than Iskander systems.
It is assumed that the Smerch and Bastion systems will be able to neutralize medium-range missiles deployed on the territory of Poland and Lithuania.
Moscow is also modernizing its mechanized troops in the region. By the end of October 2020, the army corps of the Baltic Fleet received 30 modernized T-72B3M tanks. The newest upgrade to the Baltic Fleet is the Peter Morgunov assault ship. It can carry 13 tanks or up to 30 armored personnel carriers plus 300 marines. The fleet also includes a new Odintsovo missile ship and 02510 BK-16 assault boat.
The air force of the Baltic Fleet was equipped with new multitask Su-30SM fighters, which replaced the outdated Su-27. In September, the Russians began modernizing the Baltic Fleet base in Baltiysk on the Vistula Spit which would be able to serve modern ships armed with cruise missiles.