Russia unilaterally suspended an agreement on Monday that allowed Russia and Lithuania to inspect each others’ armed forces, The Lithuania Tribune reports.
Russia, which borders Lithuania and Poland through its small exclave of Kaliningrad, signed a bilateral agreement with Lithuania in 2001 that allowed free access for military inspectors. While Russia would be able to inspect all of Lithuania’s armed forces, Lithuania was only permitted to inspect Russian forces in neighbouring Kaliningrad in an attempt to foster mutual trust.
Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence has said in a statement that they were surprised by the sudden and unwarranted suspension of the treaty.
“Such a move by Russia demonstrates Russia’s unwillingness to ensure mutual trust and can be deemed another move towards the destruction of the mutual trust and security system in Europe,” the statement said.
Kaliningrad, which was originally a part of Germany, was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945. During the Cold War, Kaliningrad was heavily militarized.
Kaliningrad remains of extreme strategic importance to Russia. It hosts the Russian Baltic Fleet and is also home to the Chernyakhovsk and Donskoye air bases. Short range ballistic missiles have also been deployed in Kaliningrad since at least 2012.
There have also been unsubstantiated reports that Russia may have moved nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad after the United States announced plans to build a missile defence shield in Poland. Wikileaks in 2009 released a 2002 Congressional Research Service report detailing that U.S. intelligence had detected the presence of nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad through satellite technology.
Although Putin has denied these allegations, Russia is not prohibited from placing nuclear weapons in its Baltic territory.
The U.S. and NATO have increased troop deployments to Poland and the Baltics in an attempt to reassure the allied countries against Russian aggression in Ukraine.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.