Russia criticises U.S. general over plan to destroy Kaliningrad air defences

MOSCOW, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Russia on Friday accused the United States of brazenly threatening it after a senior U.S. general said Washington had drawn up a plan in case it needed to destroy air defences in Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave in Europe.

U.S. General Jeffrey Harrigian said on Tuesday that “If we have to go in there to take down, for instance, the Kaliningrad IADS (Integrated Air Defense System), let there be no doubt we have a plan to go after that,” the Breaking Defense magazine reported.

Kaliningrad is a Russian region that lies on the Baltic Sea between EU members Lithuania and Poland. Moscow captured the region from Germany towards the end of World War Two.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticised the comments by Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, at her weekly briefing in Moscow.

“Firstly we consider this a threat. Secondly, we consider such statements to be absolutely irresponsible,” she said.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence rejected Harrigian’s assertion and said the region was well defended.

“The region of Kaliningrad is reliably protected from any aggressive ‘plans’ developed in Europe by U.S. generals passing through,” it said in a statement. (Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Andrew Osborn; editing by Angus MacSwan)

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