Updated: 16/12/16 : 06:46:56
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World :: Russia to move mobile missiles closer to European borders

A Russian military commander has said the army will expand mobile missile patrols in European regions of the country in 2017.

Col Gen Sergei Karakayev said pontoon technology meant nuclear missiles could now be moved to new areas and "overcome practically any water obstacle".

Tensions between Russia and Nato have escalated because of the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine.

However, the two sides have agreed to hold talks in Brussels on Monday.

"When tensions run high, as today, it is even more important to have direct dialogue with Russia," said Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Ambassadors from all 28 members of the Western military alliance will join Russia's Alexander Grushko for the first Nato-Russia Council (NRC) meeting since July.

Mr Grushko said he planned to have a frank discussion about the security situation, particularly "the consequences of Nato reinforcements on the eastern flank".

Nato suspended co-operation with Russia after it took over and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and relations remain frosty.

Both sides have staged military exercises and Nato is to beef up its forces to reassure the Baltic states and Poland. The election of Donald Trump to the US presidency has also triggered alarm, as he is widely seen as more friendly to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia deployed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles two months ago in Kaliningrad, an enclave that borders Poland and Lithuania. Mr Putin said last month that Russia had to use its missile systems as "counter-measures" against facilities it saw as threatening.

Unconfirmed reports have also suggested that Russia has been looking into transporting its Yars missiles by rail.

The chief of Russia's General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, told foreign military attaches in Moscow on Thursday that the idea that Russia's armed build-up in the west was a threat to Nato was "totally groundless".

While Russia's forces in its western military district had decreased, he argued, Nato's activities had been stepped up.