Russia already has nuclear weapons in the Baltic region, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said on Thursday.

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined the US-led military alliance then Russia would have to bolster its defenses in the region, including by deploying nuclear weapons.

Anusauskas told Lithuania’s BNS wire that nuclear weapons have been deployed in Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea since before the current crisis.

“The current Russian threats look quite strange, when we know that, even without the present security situation, they keep the weapon 100 km from Lithuania’s border,” the minister was quoted by the wire on Thursday.

“Nuclear weapons have always been kept in Kaliningrad … the international community, the countries in the region, are perfectly aware of this … They use it as a threat,” he was quoted.

Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave, on the shore of the Baltic Sea, is sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte on Thursday said the Russian threat to increase military, including nuclear, in the Baltic region was “nothing new”.

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