Russia has moved nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles into the Kaliningrad enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania, the Defence Ministry said on Saturday, adding it was part of routine drills.

Vladimir Putin is sneaking nuclear-capable missiles into central Europe in a bid to boost his sphere of military influence.

The strongman has sent a ship loaded with an Iskander-M missile system to Kaliningrad, a small Russian enclave located between Poland and Lithuania.

Estonian media claim the highly-advanced weapons system is being transported on a civilian ship in a bid to go undetected by the West.

The powerful missile system is far beyond anything possessed by the West.

It is capable of striking targets 310 miles away and is designed to carry nuclear weapons, meaning Putin’s reach across the NATO-aligned eastern European states will be vastly expanded.

Estonia’s minister of defence, Hannes Hanso, refused to be drawn on the reports when contacted by ERR.

But he added: “But it’s certainly true that we have reason to keep our eyes open in the air, on the water, and everywhere else.”

A US intelligence official has confirmed the reports and suggested Russia was playing war games prior to the election of a new US president.

“They moved a similar missile system to Kaliningrad in 2014 for a military exercise. It could also be a political gesture – a show of strength – to express displeasure with NATO,” the official said.