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Russia Activates Three New Anti-Missile Early-Warning Systems Near North Korean Border

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A picture taken on November 29, 2011, shows a Russian army officer, operator of the Voronezh-DM a radar warning system station in the exclave of Kaliningrad, taking salute during a visit of then-President Dmitry Medvedev (not pictured). AFP/Getty Images/Reuters

Russia has activated three new early-warning missile attack radars covering its southeastern frontiers, including its border with North Korea, after repeated missile tests by Pyongyang have raised fears of impending conflict.

The deputy commander of Russia’s air force Alexander Golovko boasted that “for the first time in history” a trio of new Voronezh rocket attack detection radar stations have entered service in Krasnoyarsk, Altai and Orenburg regions, the Ministry of Defense’s Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper reported on Wednesday.

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The new radars all sit near Russia’s borders with Kazakhstan and Mongolia but with an operating range of 6,000km (3,730 miles) they have the Korean Peninsula and chunks of Russia’s Pacific coastline in range. 

The Kremlin activated its Voronezh-DM radar system covering its western borders in 2011, while a replacement programme for Russia’s Soviet-era radars has been in play since 2005.

The new additions improve Moscow’s radar coverage in its east, as previously only one of its systems, in Irkutsk, was located east of the Ural mountains. Two stations operated in the Leningrad and Kaliningrad regions, while one was based in Krasnodar, near Ukraine. A new radar station is also planned in Russia's high north during 2019.

Moscow tested the new deployments earlier this year and in June the Ministry of Defense announced that its Krasnoyarsk-based system had detected six launches of ballistic missiles in the northeast Pacific.

Golovko did not mention any specific country as a threat—the activation of the new radars has been since Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced it in June—but it comes at a time of heightened tensions in the vicinity of North Korea. 

Russia has condemned Pyongyang's nuclear weapons ambitions but also accused Washington of antagonizing North Korea and has tried to relay a call for direct dialog on Pyongyang’s behalf. 

Russia has also issued several signals that it is making its own preparations, should war break out. The Kremlin’s top security adviser said earlier this month that Moscow’s top objective is to avoid war but it is preparing for a scenario that the situation devolves into fighting.

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