By General Monzer El Ayoubi


Translation: Dr Pierre A. Sarkis

In the heat of the Russian military operation against Ukraine a new hot spot was set up by Lithuania, in announcing a blockade of Kaliningrad province, geographically separated from the Russian motherland, bordering the Baltic Sea, North and East Lithuania and Southern Poland.

As the strategic Suwalki Corridor is the only land supply artery and link between Belarus and land-locked Kaliningrad, Lithuania resorted in a provocative move to impose restrictions on the transport of Russian goods traveling within its territory to the Russian province via the railway line, under pretext or under the cover of its commitment to implement the EU sanctions package imposed on Moscow.  The latter considered this step of restricting freedom of passage and transit, in violation of international laws and the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in 1994 with the European Union, and a flagrant violation of the basic principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO), threatening strategic stability in the Baltic.

On the other hand, the geographical separation between the Province and the Russian soil is not considered a weakness or a negative factor, with its privileged ice-free ports throughout the year unlike most Russian naval bases, and on this trade-off, it includes the main naval base “Oblast-Kaliningrad Skaya” headquarters (Red Flag-Baltic Fleet) and two other bases “Balstik” and “Karnstadt-St. Petersburg”, where logistics support and fleet maintenance are. In parallel, within the doctrine of “Confrontational Inevitability”, the Kaliningrad enclave is from a military-strategic point of view a spearhead against NATO; and as Moscow considered Lithuania’s decision a blunt belligerent act, it threatened to take strong vengeful retaliatory actions in order to lift the ban immediately.

In high tension, a “no nuclear Baltic Sea” status is expected to drop where Russia’s tactical and operational short-range missile system, the Iskander M9 K720 capable of targeting US missiles in Poland, the Czech Republic and most EU capitals, will be deployed along with he SAM-S400 long-range Air Defense System, noting that electronic warfare systems have been in service in the region since 2014.  Alternatively, against the backdrop of Moscow’s possession of a range of military and economic response options, etc. Germany sensed the seriousness of the Russian threats, and a flexible diplomatic alternative to contain Washington’s stated and undeclared impositions, and calm things down for fear of escalation, seeking to avoid a coup d’etat or a direct war on European soil between Russia and NATO, an incentive that could prompt reconsideration of the implementation of the sanctions package, and to avoid the repercussions and effects of the conflict on Russian energy imports.  From these premises, and with German Chancellor Olaf Shultz calling on Lithuania and the European Union to lift the blockade of Kaliningrad, noting that European sanctions against Russia should not be applied to the region.  Russian President Vladimir Putin is finding good reason to seize the border line between Poland and Lithuania in case of intransigence, to ensure full military control of the Swalki Corridor.

Next, in tandem with the gradation of friendliness between Turkey and Finland and Sweden following the request of the latter two to join NATO and abandon the positive neutrality approach, Ankara reconsidered its objectional decision and signed the “Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding” during the alliance’s recent meeting in the Spanish capital, which contained what meets the wishes and requirements of political and national security through: “full cooperation in the fight against the PKK and its affiliates, the commitment not to support PYD organizations, the People’s Protection Units and Fethullah Gulen, as well as, the declaration of solidarity with Turkey in the fight against terrorism.”

In parallel, and in a clear indication of the sustainability of the military operation in Ukraine and the refusal to retreat from achieving geo-strategic objectives, President Putin congratulated his forces saying: “The forces that have fought continuous battles and achieved victories on the Lugansk front must rest and increase their combat capabilities- other units will continue to fight.”  This came after the total control of the separatist region of Lugansk and its fall in the hands of the 2nd Brigade of the People’s Militia, with the support of Russian military combat units.  In resorting to google: “Kaliningrad Province is characterized by the largest amber mine in the world and it matches precious stones in its splendor and beauty; It is formed of the resin of trees which fell and was buried underground for tens of centuries.”  In resorting to hope, is an ambition for a more just world order.  If spiders and species of insects and ants are buried in a semi-royal tomb of amber, the hope is that his homeland will not become a human grave for a third world war.

Finally, it is the dark humor that humanity lives with on the blue planet, a small blue dot in an unlimited universe.  From one of his satirical novels, American writer Kurt Vonnegut says: “We are trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no reason…”

Beirut, 07/07/2022

Scholar in Security and Strategic Affairs