In eastern Ukraine, sometimes known as the Donbas region, Russia is gaining ground. A crucial stage of the Ukrainian war has begun. What comes next is the only thought on everyone’s mind. What does Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to do after Russian soldiers take control of Donbas? Will they make another effort to seize Kiev and overthrow the Volodymyr Zelensky-led Ukrainian government? Or will Russia proclaim a cease-fire, invade Donbas, and end the conflict after permanently cutting off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea?
If NATO had not opened the Kaliningrad front, it might have been the case. What is Kaliningrad, exactly? Russia enters the Baltic Sea through this region. It is outside of the Russian mainland, but it is a Russian territory. The 223 km2 region is most accurately referred to as a Russian “exclave.” Poland and Lithuania, both NATO members, share a border with Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad is essentially Russian territory that is encircled by NATO. Moscow has always had serious concerns about that.
Now, Lithuania has blocked rail transit from Russia and Belarus into Kaliningrad, and Moscow is furious. Lithuania has claimed that it has blocked the transit of Russian goods sanctioned by Europe to pass through its territory. The sanctioned products barred from being exported to Russian territory by the European Union include construction machinery, machine tools and other industrial equipment. Regional governor Anton Alikhanov said the ban would cover around 50 per cent of the items that Kaliningrad imports.
The Russian exclave, which is estimated to have a population of close to a million, relies heavily on imports from both Russia and Europe. Moscow therefore views Lithuania’s decision to stop the train line leading to this territory as an “unprecedented” escalation. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, said the action was unprecedented and that Russia saw it as illegal. It is obviously a part of a roadblock, he said.
Vladimir Putin’s close adviser, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Federation’s Security Council, went so far as to say, “Russia will undoubtedly retaliate against such aggressive activities.” Interdepartmental planning is underway for measures that will be implemented soon. The populace of Lithuania will be severely harmed by these effects.