Recently, a Russian enclave “Kaliningrad” has become the latest focus of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Lithuania recently enforced EU sanctions, imposing a ban on the transport of passengers and goods by rail in the enclave, an area of only 15,000 square kilometers, which has caused a diplomatic dispute between Russia and Lithuania.
On June 18, Lithuania announced that it will no longer allow goods on the EU sanctions list against Russia to be transported to Kaliningrad by rail, including coal, metals, construction materials, high-tech products, etc. According to a local time report on the 21st, the head of the Kaliningrad state news department said that Lithuania has expanded the scope of the ban on transit transportation from rail transportation to road transportation.
The report pointed out that Lithuania and the European Union firmly believe that the ban affects only about 50% of the transport of goods and does not amount to a “blockade”. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis revealed that the sanctions were decided after consultation with the European Commission and were not a unilateral decision by Lithuania.
Although both Lithuania and the EU claim that the sanctions are not “blockades”, Russia believes that this is an “economic blockade”. The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Lithuanian Chargé d’affaires in Russia to express strong protest against the ban imposed by Lithuania, saying that the move is an openly hostile act and calls for the immediate lifting of restrictions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also responded, saying it was “unprecedented” and that Russia would take necessary countermeasures “to make the Baltic states feel pain” in response to Lithuania’s actions.
Lithuanian soldiers inspect rail transport to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.Figure: Retrieved from the World Wide Web
Reports have pointed out that although the enclave of Kaliningrad is small in size, it has great strategic significance and is known as the Kremlin’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the Baltic Sea. The report analyzed that the dispute over the enclave could escalate tensions between Russia and the European Union.
According to reports, it may be “inevitable” that Kaliningrad will become a hotspot of conflict between Russia and Western countries due to its special geographical location.
According to the report, this enclave is located in the westernmost part of Russia, with an area of only 15,000 square kilometers and a permanent population of about 1 million. It is not adjacent to the main territory of Russia. It mainly obtains goods and energy from other parts of Russia through railways and natural gas pipelines. The only railway between them goes through Lithuania.
The report pointed out that the port of Baltiysk in the enclave is one of the few ice-free ports in Russia. Historically, Russia has always been eager to find an outlet to the sea and attaches great importance to maritime affairs. Located in Kaliningrad, it shows the importance of its strategic location.
Another reason why the enclave is important is that Kaliningrad’s “Suwalki Corridor” (Suwalki) is the main land passage connecting Poland and Lithuania, and it can also be connected to Belarus. It is the only land connection between other EU countries and the three Baltic countries. . According to the Lu media “Reference News”, when discussing how to retaliate against Lithuania, experts pointed out that the most radical approach is to make a fuss on the Suwauke Corridor, but this obviously means war with NATO.
In addition, there are reports that Kaliningrad has been a relatively “militarized” area before. According to CCTV News, Russia has deployed the S-400 air defense missile system and the nuclear-capable “Iskander missile” system in Kaliningrad Oblast.
In a report in October 2018, according to satellite images, Russia appeared to have upgraded some military installations in the Kaliningrad region, when the Russians were facing the Chkalovsk air base not far north of Kaliningrad and The Chernyakhovsk military base, where the 152nd Missile Brigade is located, is being upgraded.
Railways and roads in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad have been embargoed by Lithuania, leaving only sea transport available.Figure: Retrieved from CCTV
Kaliningrad is also more important to Russia as Finland and Sweden apply to join NATO, the report said. Once the two countries formally join NATO, it means that Kaliningrad will be in an “isolated state” on the Baltic coast, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. There are reports and analysis that Russia is disturbed by the NATO countries around Kaliningrad and does not rule out the possibility of deploying nuclear weapons there.
According to the “Reference News” report on May 7, Russia conducted a simulated “electron launch” of the “Iskander” mobile ballistic missile system that can carry a nuclear warhead in Kaliningrad. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that about 100 soldiers participated in the exercises, simulating single and multiple strikes against targets such as enemy missile launchers, airfields, protected infrastructure, military installations and command posts. The Russian Ministry of Defense also mentioned that after the “electronic launch”, the troops adjusted their positions to avoid “possible retaliatory strikes”.
Recently, a Russian enclave “Kaliningrad” has become the latest focus of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Lithuania recently enforced EU sanctions, imposing ban on rail transport of passengers and goods in the enclave
A place with an area of only 15,000 square kilometers has caused diplomatic disputes between Russia and Lithuania.
On the 21st, the secretary of the Russian Federation Security Council said that the Russian side will fight back against the embargo order, which will make Lithuania feel pain. Picture: Retrieved from Tencent.com
The Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, with its immovable port, is of great strategic importance.Figure: Retrieved from CCTV
Russian customs officials work at the port of Baltisk in the Kaliningrad region. Picture: Retrieved from Tencent.com
Russian-made S-400 air defense missile system Picture: Retrieved from CCTV