Airlift It

22 June 2022


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Lithuania Stops Russian Supply Trains to Kaliningrad


The City of Koenigsberg dates from the 1200s, and it was where the Prussian Kaisers were crowned even after the capital was moved to Berlin. In 1945, the Soviet Union annexed it, renamed it Kaliningrad and expelled all the ethnic German residents. The Lithuanian population was permitted to stay, and the USSR moved in ethnic Russians. After the fall of the Soviet Union, it became a Russian outpost separated from Russia proper by Lithuania and Poland. Yesterday, Lithuania stopped all train travel from Russia to Kaliningrad citing EU sanctions forbidding the transit of Russian goods across EU territory. Russia is having a fit over this. Perhaps, the Kremlin can look at history books and see how the West managed a similar situation in West Berlin in 1949.

Getting supply trains to Kaliningrad are important because not only is it a city of about a million residents, it is home to Russia\'s Baltic Fleet. Navies and armies need to be supplied, and as industry has developed, the need for supplies has increased. There was no need for high-temperature lubricants in the age of sail, but today, there certainly is. If the Baltic Fleet starts to run short of such things, its effectiveness will decline.

Russia, despite the official Kremlin line, is at war in Ukraine. The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia in response. Lithuania is perfectly entitled to deny Russia train access to Kaliningrad through sovereign Lithuanian territory. To fulfill its treaty obligations to the rest of the EU, it actually has to do so.

Naturally, the Kremlin doesn\'t like this and is upset. "Russia will certainly respond to such hostile actions," Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian national security council, was quoted as saying by state news agency RIA. "Appropriate measures are being worked out in an interdepartmental format and will be taken in the near future. Their consequences will have a serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania."

The response is not going to be military. Russia can\'t crush Ukraine. Adding another area of action to the war will not help the overall military effort of the Russian Armed Forces. Moreover, Lithuania is a member of NATO. A military move against Lithuania would bring the full force of NATO to bear. This is not something the Russians want.

Instead, they are likely to cut Lithuania off from the area power grid. There are two reasons that is likely to be ineffective. First, the Lithuanians are prepared to make sacrifices to stop Russian aggression. They experienced that in 1939, and they lived with occupation and forced annexation under the USSR. Sitting in the dark is preferable in their minds to giving into the Kremlin. "We are ready and we are prepared for unfriendly actions from Russia [in response], such as disconnection from the BRELL [power grid] system, or others," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in the interview on Wednesday.

Second, Lithuania may not need Russian-based electricity. Reuters reports, "Lithuania installed equipment on its power link to Poland last year to connect with the continental European grid quickly as an insurance policy in case Russia cuts off the flow of electricity, potentially causing blackouts."

"1.6-billion-euro ($1.94 billion) EU-funded project aims to disconnect the Baltic states from their common power grid with Russia and Belarus in 2025 in favour of the decentralised power system of continental Europe."

Russian goods can still come and go to Kaliningrad via the Baltic Sea and by air. Russia just lost a major piece in this chess match.

© Copyright 2022 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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