Is Lithuania capable of blocking Russia’s Kaliningrad?
Lithuania recently notified Russia that it will stop road transport to Kaliningrad for the Russian mainland. So does Lithuania have the ability to completely block the traffic in Kaliningrad, Russia’s enclave in the Baltic Sea?
【Location of Kaliningrad】
Kaliningrad Oblast covers an area of 15,100 square kilometers, about 90% of the size of Beijing, less than 1/1,000 of Russia’s more than 17 million. Before Russia set up a region, it has always been one of the 85 first-level administrative regions. have important strategic significance.
Kaliningrad Oblast, now part of the Northwest Region, is an enclave in Russia, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania to the north and south, and the Baltic Sea to the west. The population here is less than one million. Its significance to the Soviet Union and Russia is not economic and population, but the geographical value generated by the special geographical location.
Kaliningrad is about 1,290 kilometers away from Moscow, but only about 500 kilometers away from Berlin, Germany. In Soviet times, East Germany was a weapon that could pierce all of Western Europe at any time. After Russia withdrew its troops from East Germany, Kaliningrad became a bridgehead between Russia and the Western world. The headquarters of the Russian Baltic Fleet is located here, with a large number of land, sea and air troops stationed, and its strategic location is very important.
At that time Kaliningrad existed as the westernmost state of the Soviet Union, which was directly accessible by car from Moscow. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kaliningrad became a Russian enclave, standing alone by the Baltic Sea.
【Kaliningrad land transportation】
Now the land transportation between the Russian mainland and Kaliningrad, either go to Lithuania nearby, or take a detour to Poland.
When the Soviet Union first disintegrated, both Lithuania and Poland were in awe of Big Brother Russia, and Russians entered Kaliningrad unimpeded. But later Lithuania and Poland joined NATO and the European Union one after another, and the situation changed dramatically.
In 2002, before Lithuania joined the European Union (Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004), Russia and the European Union signed a joint declaration on transit transportation between Kaliningrad Oblast and the Russian mainland, and the transportation of goods in Russia was guaranteed to a certain extent.
The EU stipulates that residents of internal countries do not need a visa to travel freely, but countries outside the EU must apply for a visa to enter. As a result, Russians need to apply for visas for the two land passages from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad, and they are subject to Lithuanian or Polish customs inspections.
In 2014, the EU imposed sanctions on Russia following a referendum on two administrative divisions of the Crimean peninsula. Lithuania and Poland are not detaining goods, but delaying time. Many goods in Russia are hoarded at customs for inspection, and the efficiency is greatly reduced.
Russia’s aggressive military and diplomacy has put strong pressure on Western European countries and cut off Kaliningrad’s land transportation. It is a magic weapon for the EU and NATO to sanction Russia. Of course, the EU will not give up easily.
The above is the economic aspect, and the military is even more powerful. Poland and the three Baltic countries have joined the US-led NATO, and Poland and Lithuania have both deployed NATO troops and missiles.
In order to counter NATO, Russia deployed missiles with nuclear warheads in Kaliningrad to suppress violence with violence and see who perishes first.
The distance from Kaliningrad to Western European countries is more than 600 kilometers shorter than that of Russia. Kaliningrad is about 500 kilometers away from Berlin, Germany; about 1080 kilometers away from NATO and EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium; about 1340 kilometers away from Paris, France and London, England.
For this reason, NATO and the EU dare not relax the barrier to Kaliningrad and remain vigilant at all times.
【Kaliningrad Maritime Transportation】
Russia can’t get through on land at all, so what about the sea? From St. Petersburg in the eastern Gulf of Finland, Kaliningrad can be reached via the Baltic Sea.
The sea route, in addition to the three Baltic countries that regard Russia as its mortal enemy, also passes through the waters of Finland and Sweden. Both countries declared permanent neutrality after World War II, but neutrality does not mean that they have no national defense. In fact, almost all of the arms purchases of the two countries come from NATO countries dominated by the United States. The biggest defense targets are the Soviet Union and Russia.
During the Russian-Ukrainian war in 2022, Finland and Sweden intend to abandon their neutrality and join NATO. However, Turkey almost single-handedly vetoed the possibility of the two countries joining NATO and avoided a Baltic war.
The sea route from St. Petersburg to Kaliningrad is about 1,000 kilometers up and down, and the speed of ships is far less than that of highways, which can transport goods but are not suitable for passengers. And it is inevitable that they will be inspected or even expelled from other countries, and the stumbling will never go smoothly.
The longest river in Lithuania is the Nemunas River, which originates in the mountains of Belarus and flows into the Gulf of Kuros. It is about 937 kilometers long and 475 kilometers long in Lithuania.
The Nemunas River flows westward slowly, but it does not flow directly into the Baltic Sea, but enters the Baltic Sea through the Coors Bay. Coors Bay covers an area of about 1,619 square kilometers and has an average water depth of only 3.8 meters. It is a freshwater lake.
The Curonian Spit separates the Curonian Gulf and the Baltic Sea. This spit is 98 kilometers long, of which Lithuania accounts for 52 kilometers and Kaliningrad in Russia accounts for 46 kilometers. The spit is about 3,800 meters wide at its widest and only 400 meters at its narrowest. The only gap is at the northern end, with a width of only about 500 meters.
The formation of the Curonian Spit is now the most widely circulated because the seawater rebounds after hitting the coast and collides with the newly coming seawater, and various substances are deposited at the impact of the seawater.
After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, eastern Lithuania did not border Russia, but because Russia was in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, southwestern Lithuania bordered Russia, and shared the Curonian Spit and the Curonian Gulf.
The only outlet of the Coors Bay is located at the northern end. As early as the Prussian period, the port Moer was built. At that time, the entire Coors Bay belonged to Prussia (Germany). Now Lithuania also builds the port of Klaipeda, which is Lithuania. The third largest city and the largest port.
The Coors Bay has no outlet in Russia, and it has a particularly great impact on Kaliningrad, Russia. Russian ships going out of the Coors Bay have to pass through the waters of Lithuania and pass through the port of Klaipeda.
Just from a geographical point of view, Lithuania has the possibility of blocking the land and sea of Kaliningrad, Russia, depending on whether Lithuania has the courage.
【Lithuania dumps the pot in the EU】
Russia summoned the Lithuanian Chargé d’affaires in Russia and asked Lithuania to lift the ban, otherwise Russia would retaliate and Lithuania would bear the consequences.
Diplomatic representatives of various countries are divided into three levels: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (Ambassador), Minister Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and Charge d’Affaires. The middle one is not commonly used, usually the ambassador and the charge d’affaires. If the relationship is normal, it is the ambassador. If the relationship is bad, it is downgraded to the charge d’affaires. The two countries had already downgraded their diplomatic relations to the charge d’affaires level, so Russia summoned the Lithuanian chargé d’affaires in Russia instead of the ambassador.
You must know that the United States has imposed sanctions on Russia in almost all directions, and the relationship between the two countries is also at the ambassador level, but a small country like Lithuania is dancing happily.
After Lithuania received Russia’s retaliatory notice, it changed its tune and said it was implementing EU regulations, allowing Russia and the EU to negotiate and shifting the pressure to the EU.
In the follow-up, whether Lithuania and the EU really block Kaliningrad, or whether they have been addicted to their mouths, will soon find out.