US naval groups in the Black and Baltic seas are capable of hitting targets in Russia West of the Ural mountains with Tomahawk cruise missiles having a range of 2,500 kilometers, the deputy chief of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate, Lieutenant-General Viktor Poznikhir, told a joint Russian-Chinese news briefing on missile defense issues at the disarmament conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
“Missile defense ships in the Black and Baltic seas pose a threat to facilities in the European part of Russia, because it is unclear what missiles the Mk-41 launchers carry at a given moment,” Poznikhir said.
He said the US cruisers and destroyers armed with interceptor missiles are also suitable for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles having a range of 2,500 kilometers.
“Each Ticonderoga class cruiser has 128 Mk-41 launchers that can be loaded with interceptor missiles or Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Arleigh Burke destroyer has 96 launchers. Potentially the US missile defense ships can be armed with more than 1,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles,” Poznikhir said.
The missile defense bases in Romania and Poland, he said, are equipped with similar universal launchers Mk-41.
“All speculations to the effect the ground-based Mk-41 launchers are allegedly unable to launch cruise missiles do not hold water. The interceptors at the missile bases in Europe can be stealthily and promptly armed with Tomahawks that can attack targets in the whole of Russia’s European part,” Poznikhir said.
“It should be remembered that the possibility of using the naval missile launchers on the ground for accommodating the Tomahawk cruise missiles is a crude violation of the 1987 INF treaty. Russia has more than once notified its US partners of its concerns about such violations of international commitments. There has been no response to this day, though,” he stated.