Moscow: The move follows a warning by US defence secretary Jim Mattis this week that Kim Jong Un’s regime is the world’s “most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security”.
The Buk-M3 has no match among Western armaments, according to Moscow which has expressed “profound concern” over recent North Korean missile launches which “serve to heighten tensions”, with US warships already on patrol in the region.
Deployment of the highly mobile, multifunctional mid-range air defence missile system will be in Ulan-Ude, capital of the Republic of Buryatia, a mainly Buddhist region close to Lake Baikal in Siberia.
The Buk-M3 is seen as countering cruise missiles, theater ballistic missiles, aircrafts and helicopters, and this is its first deployment in the east of the country.
Reports today citing informed military experts said the deployment was “a precaution in case situation in the Korean peninsula escalates”. Russia has already bolstered its military readiness in the country’s far east, where it shares land and sea borders with North Korea.
Expert Vasily Kashin, from the Institute of the Far East, said: “Re-arming the air missile defence brigade in Ulan-Ude will become another guarantee in case of escalation in the Korean peninsula.
“The brigade can be relocated further east and used to cover administrative and industrial centres from possible missile or aviation attack.” Training will go on for two months after which the Buk-M3 “will be fully prepared for combat missions”.
An earlier Soviet-era version of the Buk was used from a pro-Moscow rebel-held region of eastern Ukraine to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2014, killing all 298 people on board.
Kremlin newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta said: “The Buk-M3 can fire 20 seconds after stopping. In fact, it almost fires on the move. “A transporter-loader vehicle from which it can also be fired, simultaneously carries 12 launch containers with missiles.
“The Buk-M3 is able to destroy strategic and tactical aviation aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, guided aircraft bombs, and other flying objects.
“It can fire at surface and ground radio-contrast targets, that is, to be used as a tactical guided missile. “It passed tests at the Kapustin Yar range before the first brigade set of the Buk-M3 was put into the field.”
Head of arms-maker Almaz-Antey Concern, Yuriy Beliy, added: “There is no rival for Buk-M3 system in terms of combat effectiveness among mobile mid-range systems.”
The new Buk systems can attack up to 36 targets moving at a speed of up to 3,000 metres per second simultaneously at a distance from 1.5 to 45 miles and altitudes of up to 22 miles.
While Ulan-Ude is some 2,130 miles west from the Russian border with North Korea, experts say the Buk-M3 can be swiftly relocated in the even of rising tensions.