Earlier today we edged closer to the start of a hot war with Russia.
Lithuania started to implement EU sanction rules as part of a swathe of measures intended to punish President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine. It closed the transit of goods to Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea.
Russia has said that unless the transit is swiftly restored it would take measures (undisclosed) to defend its national interests.
A Kremlin spokesperson said that the closure is “a violation of everything.”
Never mind that the reason for the closure was Russia’s unprovoked attack on a sovereign neighbour. Bullies are always surprised if someone hits back; seems unfair.
The Lithuanians countered that the closure was undertaken with consultation from European Commission and under European Commission guidelines.
A former German outpost on the Baltic Sea, Kaliningrad is a little enclave of old German buildings that was taken over by Soviet Russia after WW2. Its million people live in an area of 220 sq. kms. All its German occupants were relocated West following the war, and the Soviets held on to the territory when the newly-independent nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia sprung up.
It is the home to Russia’s Baltic Fleet, as it is the only ice-free port all year long.
It is critical for both Moscow’s Ukraine offensive and for ensuring its security. Kaliningrad may not look like it fits into Putin’s Ukrainian war puzzle, but in fact Russian armies could use it as a launching pad for an attack on the Baltic states, including Poland, that support Ukraine.
According to reports, Russia has deployed nuclear-capable strategic missiles in the region.
This is just the latest in a series of “erosion events” to hit Russia. Since the 1990’s 150 million people have left Russia, and one-third of its area has been clipped off its map. These people did not jump over a border wall — they formed their own countries and seceded.