Disagreement with Russia – «For Moscow, Kaliningrad is a kind of unsinkable aircraft carrier» – News

There is a dispute between Russia and Lithuania, a country in the European Union, over Kaliningrad, the Russian backwaters of Europe. The region has the potential to deepen the differences between Russia and the European Union. Kai Olaf Lang says the end of the row is never in sight. He is an expert on Eastern Europe at the Berlin Foundation for Science and Policy.

SRF News: What is it all about Kaliningrad?

Kai Olaf Lang: Since the expansion of the European Union and NATO, Kaliningrad, which is part of the Russian Federation, has been surrounded by Western structures. It was thought that Kaliningrad could become a pilot project for Russia-EU cooperation – but that has since collapsed.

Kaliningrad is a highly armed region of great strategic importance for Russia.

At the same time, Kaliningrad is also a kind of Russian unsinkable aircraft carrier – a highly armed region and of great strategic importance for Russia. In the event of an emergency, Kaliningrad could hold rapid ground assistance to NATO allies Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Why is the application of Western sanctions on Kaliningrad intensified?

Obviously, Russia assumes that the lines of communication between parts of Russia will be cut. From the point of view of Lithuania and the European Union, it is a question of imposing the sanctions regime on Russia. Lithuania says this is by no means a blockade. Goods not subject to sanctions can still be transported, and passenger travel is unrestricted.

Russia sees the application of sanctions against Kaliningrad as a new provocation from the West.

Russia sees itself in permanent conflict with the West and views the Kaliningrad issue as a new provocation from the West. Hence the sharp speech from Moscow. It is known that Russia warns of “serious consequences”.

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What’s Next?

Of course you don’t know that for sure. But I don’t think Russia will try to intervene with the big stick and conquer the Suwalki Gap through Belarus, for example.

Nothing can be ruled out at present.

Because then Moscow will enter into an armed conflict with NATO, which has repeatedly and unequivocally made it clear that it will respond militarily to any violation of NATO territory. However, nothing can be ruled out at present.

What is the most likely scenario?

Russia will likely respond with a mix of tough rhetoric, heavy metal diplomacy, some rattle of swords, and gestures of strength. Further steps will be risky.

More penalties and item groups will be added. Russia simply will not accept that.

However, this controversy over Kaliningrad will not diminish. More sanctions and commodity groups will be added in the coming months. Russia simply will not accept that.

Interviewed by Corinna Heinsmann.

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