Russia to Rebuild Military Airfields near NATO Borders

The Russian Defense Ministry will modernize two airfields in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, Commander of the Baltic Fleet Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov said on Wednesday.

“We are planning to increase the length of the runway to 3,500 meters at the airfield in Chkalovsk so that it would be able to receive any kind of aircraft, including Boeings and Airbuses,” Chirkov said.

The reconstruction will take about two years.

The Defense Ministry is also planning to rebuild an abandoned Soviet-era airfield for hydroplanes on the Baltic Spit.

The admiral said the Baltic Fleet will have at least four amphibious aircraft for reconnaissance and search-and-rescue missions by March 2013.

The importance of the Kaliningrad exclave, surrounded by NATO members Lithuania and Poland, to Russia’s national security has grown considerably in the past few years as Moscow searches for ways to counter the European missile shield.

Russia has recently activated a long-range radar in the region and is planning to deploy S-400 Triumf air defense systems and Iskander (SS-26 Stone) tactical missile systems there in the near future.

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