With the success of Russia’s operations in Ukraine, we have to be concerned about NATO reacting to their strategic defeat by shifting their aggression not only to intense economic and propaganda warfare against Russia but also against Russia’s position in the Baltic region.
The blockade imposed on Kaliningrad on June 20th by Lithuania, a NATO member, and approved by the European Union, on the pretext of enforcing their illegal ‘sanctions,” is a direct act of war against Russia which will lead to immediate action by Russia to end the blockade, and follows the NATO logic which has been expressed openly for some time.
In February 2016, The Atlantic Council, the NATO think tank in the USA, issued a report called, “Alliance At Risk.”
In that report they stated,
“The Russian invasion of Crimea, its support for separatists, and its invasion of eastern Ukraine have effectively ripped up the post-Cold War settlement of Europe. Russia is now a de facto strategic adversary. Even more dangerously, the threat is potentially existential, because Putin has constructed an international dynamic that could put Russia on a collision course with NATO. At the center of this collision would be the significant Russian-speaking populations in the Baltic States…’
The document uses language that indicates that the NATO powers do not recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Kaliningrad that was established at the end of the Second World War, claiming that Russia “has ripped up” the post-Cold War settlement of Europe.
NATO has continuously increased its presence in the area. A multinational battle group, led by soldiers from the US Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment, was stationed in Poland, and is now joined by the 82nd Airborne Division not far from the country’s border with Kaliningrad. Canadian army units are now in Latvia, near Riga, along with other NATO forces. The unit is part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, which is intended, they pretend, “to deter potential Russian aggression” and on June 19th the US journal Politico reported that 650 German soldiers had joined other NATO units and were now in Lithuania to protect it “from Russian aggression.”
This of course is exactly in line with the demands of the Alliance At Risk Report that called for a NATO force to be placed in Poland.
We have to wonder whether Biden’s visit to the US 82nd Airborne Division that was recently sent to Poland was really about events in Ukraine or something else, that being, to create another threat against Russia at Kaliningrad. The press restrictions on reporting the movements of the Division and their purpose are unusually secret. We can speculate that they are linked to the statement made in an interview on March 10th by General Waldermar Skrzpczak, former commander of Polish land forces, who stated that,
“The enclave has been under Russian occupation since 1945,” stressing that the territory historically belonged to Prussia and Poland, and that, “We have the right to have disputes over the territory occupied by Russia.” There is no historical basis for such a claim but this statement did not come out of nowhere. It was clearly designed to provoke a Russian response and get people in the west used to the idea that Russia is“occupying foreign territory” in order to manipulate the western public into supporting a move to seize the oblast.
“Dealing with Kaliningrad first is imperative”
Several American think tanks have called for the seizure and stated that taking the region was key if the alliance wants to deprive Russia of local ground and air superiority, and use of the Russian Baltic Fleet’s homeport.
They stressed that NATO must work up “strong nerves” to invade Kaliningrad and pointing out that “Russian propaganda will trumpet the ‘sacred soil of the motherland,’ and Russian leaders will threaten nuclear retaliation.”
That report isn’t the first time a US think tank has proposed “neutralising” Russia’s Kaliningrad in a conflict.
In 2017, the RAND Corporation issued its own report on the prospects of a conflict in Kaliningrad, questioning whether Russia would even treat an attack on Kaliningrad as ‘an attack on the Russian homeland.’
Just days before Russia began its operations in Ukraine, a US B52H strategic bomber carried out a simulated bombing of the Russian Baltic Fleet’s Kaliningrad base. Previously, Russian and NATO aircraft have had encounters over local airspace, with one incident seeing a Russian jet fighter chasing away a Spanish Air Force aircraft that approached close to the plane carrying Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as he travelled over the area.
On March 10, the same Jamestown Foundation again stated that the US and NATO should seize Kaliningrad, beginning with a blockade of the oblast by closing the road and rail links through Lithuania and Poland, as well as cutting the natural gas pipelines to it, hoping to cause unrest among the population A direct attack could follow.
On March 28th the Pentagon announced that,
In coordination with the German government, six US Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft are scheduled to arrive at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany on that date in order to, “bolster readiness, enhance NATO’s collective defense posture and further increase air integration capabilities with our allies and partner nations.’
“These Growlers …. specialize in flying electronic warfare missions, using a suite of jamming sensors to confuse enemy radars, greatly aiding in the ability to conduct suppression of enemy air defense operations.”
“They are not deployed against Russian forces in Ukraine. They are being deployed completely in keeping with our efforts to bolster NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities along that eastern flank.”
These aircraft clearly would be useful to them in the event of an operation against Kaliningrad to suppress Russian air defences and represent a direct threat against Russia.
All these American and NATO think tanks dress up their ideas for aggression as a response to “Russia’s hostile plans’ but the real reason is to push Russia out of its main naval base protecting Russia’s access to the North Sea and Atlantic, to threaten and control the approaches St. Petersburg itself, and to attempt a blockade of the city and exports and imports through it. Memories of the Nazi siege of Leningrad in WWII come quickly to mind.
With the success of Russia’s operations in Ukraine, and the inability of NATO to react except through economic warfare and propaganda, and, with the coming crisis in Europe with their refusal to pay for Russian gas and oil supplies we can expect them to try to shift the blame for their self-created crisis to Russia. The Kaliningrad Oblast is clearly a focus in their planning.
A day later, the Russian foreign ministry reacted, as reported in TASS, that
“On June 21, head of the EU mission in Moscow Markus Ederer was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry. A resolute protest was expressed to the EU representative over the introduction of unilateral anti-Russian restrictions on cargo transit between the Kaliningrad Region and the rest of the Russian Federation. The inadmissibility of such actions that violate the EU’s corresponding legal and political obligations and lead to the escalation of tensions was pointed out,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“We demanded restoring the normal function of the Kaliningrad transit without delay. Otherwise, retaliatory measures will follow.”
While there are some initial comments in the Russian and other media that Kaliningrad could be supplied by sea, the difficulties of doing so and the insult of the blockade, which as I stated is an act of war by Lithuania, make it more likely that direct action will be taken against Lithuania by Russia, for what else can “retaliatory measures” mean otherwise. For this blockade is different from the general economic warfare being conducted against Russia. This is the beginning of a siege of a major Russian city and military base by NATO and is a direct threat to St. Petersburg. It cannot be tolerated.
Of course the danger is that this blockade is meant to provoke Russia into attacking a NATO member, which Russia has said it will not do, in order for NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. But Russia can rightly argue that it was attacked by NATO, not only by the supply of weapons to Ukraine but also by using Lithuania to impose this blockade on a Russian city, and all bets are now off. We shall see.
We know that NATO was created with the objective of crushing the USSR. Its creation was a negation of the United Nations which it successfully pushed aside when it attacked Yugoslavia (and China) in 1999. It is the armed fist of western capital against all socialist nations and those capitalist nations or mixed economies of the world trying to maintain their independence, against Russia, and China and all the nations that try to maintain their sovereignty and the freedom of their peoples to determine their own destinies. It is our task to expose it for what it is so that the world can resist it before the NATO gang’s reckless and criminal aggression provokes a general world war, which the folly of the blockade of Kaliningrad can lead us to.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.