Russia Conducts 'Iskander' Missile Drills in Western Military District

Source: Global Security Newswire, 2 June 2014

Russia on Monday announced that it was conducting ballistic missile drills in its western segment of the country, which neighbours multiple NATO states.
"A missile formation of the Western Military District armed with [the] tactical missile system Iskander-M and long-range warplanes will participate in the war games," the Russian defence ministry informed ITAR-Tass on Monday in describing the exercises that were slated to last from May 27 through June 5.
Russia's Western Military District includes the Kaliningrad region, an exclave that borders NATO member states Poland and Lithuania. It was not apparent from the government announcement whether any Iskander missiles would be located in the Kaliningrad region for the drill. The potential deployment of nonstrategic nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to the exclave is a concern for Warsaw and Vilnius. In recent years, Moscow has warned that it would send Iskander systems to the small region as a response to the evolving NATO ballistic missile shield.
The latest military drills come as East-West tensions remain high following Russia's incursion into Ukraine. "At the drills, the military forces will deliver ground-based and airborne high-precision weapons' combined strikes at vitally important facilities of an imaginary enemy," the defence ministry said.
The ministry on Monday also announced plans to carry out roughly 12 test-firings of intercontinental ballistic missiles before the year is over, "including test launches as part of [the] development and engineering programme of advanced varieties of missilery," RIA Novosti reported.
All total, the military intends to carry out roughly 120 exercises and maneuvers in the second half of 2014, ministry spokesman Col. Igor Yegorov said.
The country's closely watched programme to field a new fleet of strategic submarines armed with the next-generation Bulava ballistic missile will conduct two SLBM trial-firings this fall, RIA Novosti separately reported.
"There will be two launches this autumn -- the first one will be held in September, from the Vladimir Monomakh submarine as part of its trials, the second [launch] is due in November," deputy defence minister Yury Borisov said.