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Archive for Sunday, January 7, 2001

Russian president denies nuclear weapons stockpile

January 7, 2001

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— President Vladimir Putin on Saturday dismissed reports that Russia may have deployed nuclear weapons in a Russian enclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, news media said.

The reports first appeared in The Washington Times on Wednesday. Later, senior U.S. administration officials told The Associated Press there had been indications of possible nuclear weapons movement to a naval base in Kaliningrad, the home of Russia's Baltic Fleet.

"It's rubbish," Putin was quoted as saying in response to a question on the reports posed by a German journalist as he accompanied German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on a walk through Red Square.

Also Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said on state-run RTR television that "there were no such weapons at naval facilities, including naval, ground and air force ones, and no such weapons have been delivered there."

Some observers have suggested that deploying nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad would be a tactic for NATO to withdraw all nuclear weapons from Europe. Poland joined the Western alliance in 1999 and Lithuania, like the other former Soviet Baltic republics Latvia and Estonia, is eager to join.

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