Putin Is Thirsty – the Troubling Problem of Kaliningrad

To Inform is to Influence

By A. Grace Buchholz

Watch Kaliningrad. This oft-forgotten Russian exclave, squeezed between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, may be the focal point for a dangerous economic and military conflict between Russia and NATO. In April 2017 a battalion of NATO troops marched up to Poland’s Kaliningrad border, to demonstrate to Russia that NATO is alert to the risk. In September, Russia will amass 13,000 troops for war games in neighboring Belarus.  But why should a small place like Kaliningrad, about the size of Trinidad and Tobago, matter? The answer is found in Russia’s 300-year quest for warm-water ports, and the lethal action it has often taken to secure them.

Kaliningrad gives Russia its only port on the Baltic coast that does not freeze during the winter. But President Vladimir Putin has a problem. Kaliningrad is cut off from Russian control by hundreds of miles of…

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