Russia says it has deployed state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles to Kaliningrad

As Russia’s war in Ukraine nears the six-month mark, Moscow has deployed warplanes armed with hypersonic missiles to the country’s Kaliningrad region.

In a statement on Thursday, Russia’s defence ministry said the move was dictated by the possibility of a clash with the west.

“The events in Ukraine demonstrated that a clash with the collective west is a real possibility,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Ivan Nechayev said.

Mr Nechayev added that a “direct confrontation with the US and Nato isn’t in our interests”.

The minstry said three MiG-31 fighter jets with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles arrived at the Chkalovsk airbase in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad as part of “additional measures of strategic deterrence”.

A video released by the ministry showed the planes arriving at the base but without any missiles.

The ministry said the missiles were delivered separately and the warplanes would remain on round the clock alert.

It added that the Kinzhal missiles have a range of up to 2,000km and fly at 10 times the speed of sound, making them hard to intercept.

The missiles have been used to strike several targets in Ukraine.

With the deployment, the Russian military aims to showcase its capability to threaten Nato assets as the region borders member states Poland and Lithuania.

The deployment came as Finland’s defence ministry announced on Thursday that two Russian MiG-31 planes were suspected of having violating the country’s airspace in the Gulf of Finland off the southern town of Porvoo, west of Helsinki.

The ministry added that a preliminary investigation had been started by the country’s Border Guard.

Russia has issued repeated warnings against western countries supplying weapons to Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Russia told the UN that they could end up using nuclear weapons in response to “direct aggression” by western countries.

Envoy Alexander Trofimov said Russia would only use nuclear weapons “in response to weapons of mass destruction or a conventional weapons attack that threatened the existence of the Russian state”.

Reiterating Moscow’s position on the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Mr Nechayev said on Thursday that as a nuclear power, the country will “continue to act with maximum responsibility”.

The Russian military is equipped with conventional weapons that “allow it to fully implement the goals set by the Russian president”, he added.

“We proceed from the assumption that the US and Nato are aware where their aggressive anti-Russian rhetoric with an emphasis on a possible use of nuclear weapons can lead to,” Mr Nechayev said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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