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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
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RIA Novosti, one of the newly reorganized Kremlin-operated news agencies, carries a report that Russia could position short-range nuclear weapons in Russia's westernmost region, Kaliningrad, a small region sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

Russia could deploy short-range Iskander missiles in the country’s westernmost Kaliningrad region if NATO decides to strengthen its military presence in Eastern Europe, Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky told RIA Novosti.

“Russia is a nuclear power,” he said. “If NATO becomes more active, we will deploy a division of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad Region,” added Buzhinsky, who previously headed the department of international agreements in the Russian Defense Ministry.

US Air Force General Philip Breedlove said Tuesday that NATO will consider permanently stationing troops in parts of Eastern Europe following the increased tensions over Ukraine, Reuters reported.

“I think this is something we have to consider and we will tee this up for discussion through the leaderships of our nations to see where that leads,” he was quoted as saying.

The RIA report goes on to quote Franz Klintsevich, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defense, who essentially says that one nuclear weapon could wipe Lithuania off of the map.

RIA Novosti used to be one of the most widely cited and respected state-owned agencies. Though it was state-owned, it was seen as having a high degree of editorial independence. Just like ITAR-TASS, if these agencies had a bias it was usually well hidden, which meant that they both had the sources within the Russian government to have inside information but had the independence to properly report the news. ITAR-TASS has become increasingly suspect since Russia's invasion of Crimea and RIA was recently merged with Voice of Russia to create a new agency, confusingly called Russia Today (RT no longer stands for Russia Today, though this fact appears to have escaped most in the media, and many prominent Western politicians). In charge of that news agency is Dmitry Kiselev, a well known propagandist with a career of working to further the Kremlin's goals.

Interestingly, RIA Novosti had gone days without posting any English-language news stories to its front page. In fact, we're not exactly sure when they started again, but their top two stories today are different articles about Russia's military might - one saying that the drill Putin personally led today "Showcases Russian Military Preparedness to Neighbors." The other headline: "Russia to Quadruple Precision Strategic Weapon Platforms by 2021."

In other words, RIA's articles since their relaunch in English read suspiciously like Russian Defence Ministry press releases, messages that are meant to intimidate RIA's English-speaking audiences. In fact, the military commander RIA quoted for the nuclear weapons story was  Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky, who the Defence Ministry's head of international cooperation department. The announcement, then, was not about informing the public about new weapons deployments, but was more about influencing "international cooperation."