Headquarters of the Baltic Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy
The Baltic Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy is headquartered in Kaliningrad. The Russian army keeps practicing at this military base every day. In the winter of 2021, Russia conducted a major military exercise named Japad-21 in Kaliningrad itself. Kaliningrad is currently one of Russia’s 46 administrative regions, but it is the only region with no direct connectivity to the mainland of Russia. It has Lithuania in one direction and Poland in the other, while in the north lies the Baltic Sea. Kaliningrad has historically been a part of the Russian Empire. Its roots are linked to East Prussia and its capital, Koenigsberg.
800 years old history of Kaliningrad
Koenigsberg was founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1255. The place later passed under the control of the German army, but it is equally famous for the philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant lived his entire life in Koenigsberg. The place is also associated with the famous philosopher Hannah Arendt. Here, as in the rest of Europe, war and peace eroded local ethnic composition and political boundaries. East Prussia broke away from Germany after the First World War with the creation of the free check of Danzig and the establishment of the Polish Corridor.
Russia conquered Kaliningrad by defeating Nazi Germany
Despite this, this part remained under Germany until the end of World War II. In early 945, the Soviet Red Army had defeated Germany and occupied this part. Later, the division of the region between Poland and the Soviet Union was agreed upon at the Yalta Conference. After which both countries gave formal recognition in 1945 at the meeting of the Big Three (Russia, America and Britain) in Postdam. Stalin made the city of Koenigsberg and its surrounding areas a part of Russia. Stalin later renamed it in honor of Mikhail Kalinin, chairman of the Posidium of the Supreme Soviet and Head of State of the Soviet Union.
The Russians were resettled after the Germans were driven out
Kaliningrad had a large population of Germans, Polis, Lithuanians and Jews. Considering this as a threat, Stalin started expelling the Germans from this area. After this, the Soviet Union launched a special campaign to settle the Russian people in the whole area. During this time, efforts were made to erase all traces of German heritage in Kaliningrad. The region recovered from its Soviet heritage after the fall of communism, benefiting from a special economic package from the Russian government in 1996. The strategic importance of Kaliningrad has increased significantly during the recent tensions.
Kaliningrad is Russia’s important military base against NATO
For Russia, Kaliningrad is such a military base, which can overwhelm the whole of Europe. Russia can completely block the movement of European and NATO countries in the Baltic Sea from this place. If there is a future war with NATO, Kaliningrad will be an important launchpad for Russian operations. That’s why the Russian army is rapidly increasing its military power in Kaliningrad. During the ongoing Special Military Operation in Ukraine, the exercise of nuclear missile strikes from this military base is also being seen as a direct challenge to NATO.