Explained: Where is Kaliningrad, why is it in focus amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict?

What is the News?

As the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues, the spotlight is on Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost region. The region is at the centre of a row after Lithuania decided to ban goods part of EU sanctions from moving through its territory to reach Kaliningrad. 

Where is Kaliningrad?
Kaliningrad
Source: Skynews

Kaliningrad is located on the Baltic Sea. It is Russia’s westernmost federal entity. It is situated almost 300 km away from mainland Russia and shares no borders with it.

Kaliningrad borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania. Essentially, Kaliningrad is Russian territory surrounded by NATO.

Why does Kaliningrad belong to Russia?

The present-day Kaliningrad used to be part of the Kingdom of Prussia and had a mixed Polish, Lithuanian and German-speaking population. 

After the defeat of Nazi Germany at the end of World War II, the territory was ceded to Soviet Russia. Its main city, known in German times as Königsberg, was renamed Kaliningrad — the same name given to the entire area.

After the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union, Kaliningrad became part of Russia.

Why is Kaliningrad important for Russia?

Kaliningrad is of prime strategic importance to Russia. Not only is it Russia’s gateway to the Baltic Sea, but is also the headquarters of the Russian Baltic Fleet. 

Kaliningrad also houses Russian combat forces, advanced air defences and the mobile nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles. 

Kaliningrad also serves as a warm water port for Russia round the year, which means Russia’s shipping operations in and out of the exclave do not get hindered due to harsh winters.

What has happened now?

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU imposed heavy sanctions on the Russian economy. To enforce the sanctions, Lithuania has decided to ban goods part of EU sanctions from moving through its territory to reach Kaliningrad.

Russia has termed this move as unprecedented and called it illegal. It is said that the consequences of this will have a serious impact on the population of Lithuania.

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Where is Kaliningrad, why is it in focus amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict?” published in Indian Express on 28th June 2022

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