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KALININGRAD

KALININGRAD NEWS



27.06.2022

KALININGRAD, A NEW CASUS BELLI FOR RUSSIA?

Could the exclave of Kaliningrad, the birthplace of Immanuel Kant, which became Soviet in 1945 with the expulsion of its Germanic population, become a future theater of war between Russia and the West?

Home to the main naval base of the Russian Baltic Fleet as well as state-of-the-art missiles, the region has been separated from the rest of Russia (as well as Moscow-allied Belarus) since the Baltics gained independence in 1991.

The recent announcement by Lithuania of the application of EU sanctions against certain Russian goods transiting through Kaliningrad has just provoked a very strong reaction from Moscow: Russia accuses the Baltic republic of having violated the agreements international organizations by setting up a blockade, promising to serious negative consequences ” for Lithuania, while Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko considered the implementation of the sanctions as a kind of declaration of war.

In fact, international commentators point out that it would be excessive to speak of a real blockade of Kaliningrad at the present time. Passenger transport is not affected and the region remains accessible to maritime trade.

Nevertheless, the vehemence of Moscow's protests and its threats against Lithuania have caused much speculation about the Kremlin's long-term intentions.

On June 20, Politico published an article describing the Suwalki Corridor– a 65km wide area in north-eastern Poland and southern Lithuania that separates the Kaliningrad region from Belarus as the most dangerous place in the world, where a conflict between Russia and the NATO forces could start in the near future.

The rather "reassuring" content of this article does not reflect its sensational title, but it is true that the Suwalki corridor, considered by some to be NATO's " Achilles' heel ", has long been a recurring subject in geopolitical analyses.

Moreover, even before the invasion of Ukraine, the idea of militarily “closing” the area was publicly discussed in the official Russian media.

On December 7, 2021, a television broadcast described a scenario where Russian forces departing from Kaliningrad would join Belarusian troops in controlling the corridor to facilitate the capture of the Baltic States.

As Polish General Tomasz Drewniak explained , the strategic importance of the region lies in the fact that it constitutes the only land access for NATO troops trying to reach the Baltic states members of the Atlantic Alliance in the event of an attack.

A narrow path that can easily be closed by shelling it from both sides. As for the possible Russian project to build a "bridge" between Kaliningrad and Belarus, another Polish general (retired), Stanislaw Koziej, compared the situation of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea with that of Crimea on the Black Sea.

Also a Russian exclave since its annexation in 2014, the Russian army is currently trying to link Crimea with the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

Another comparison, this time with the independence enclave of Transdnistria in Moldova (where Russian soldiers are stationed) was mentioned on the Rossija 1 channel on March 21 during Vladimir Solovyov's notorious program "60 minutes", during which one of the experts called for linking Kaliningrad militarily with Belarus, while raising the specter of the destruction of Warsaw in half a second.

For the moment, the risk of Moscow launching a military operation in the North seems minimal. As long as a large part of the armed forces remains engaged in Ukraine, it is highly unlikely that Moscow will open a second front, especially by involving several NATO countries (Poland/Baltic States).

However, the diplomatic climate remains tense. Even before Vilnius applied the sanctions, a bill was tabled in the Russian Duma calling for the repeal of recognition of Lithuania's independence; further north, Estonia has just complained not only about the violation of its airspace by a Russian helicopter, but also about the simulation of an attack from Moscow.

As for the idea of bombing the West from the Kaliningrad region (the missiles being capable of annihilating Paris in 200 seconds, according to a presenter from Rossija 1), these are almost certainly mere words of bravery aimed at an internal audience.

However, just before the invasion of Ukraine, images were widely circulated showing the arrival of hypersonic Kinzhal missiles in the Kaliningrad region, carried by MIG-31s.

As former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt noted , “In these days we have no right to ignore what is said on Russian state TV channels. Unfortunately, it can potentially get much worse.

Jun 17, 2022 | 11:56 AM
Heinz Rainer
Mar 26, 2016 | 11:56 AM
Heinz Rainer
May 8 13, 2016 | 11:30 AM
MUMBAI, INDIA
JUN 18, 2022 | 9:30 AM
H Shrouli
JUN 13, 2022 | 7:30 AM
R. Antwi
May 31, 2022 | 05:36 PM
Heinz Rainer
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