The Soviet Union took the tiny strip of land, nudged today along the Baltic coast between Poland and Lithuania, in 1944 at the end of World War II from Nazi Germany — just a decade before Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea (perhaps in a drunken stupor) from the Russian Soviet republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Previously known as Königsberg, it’s the homeland of one of the world’s most renowned German philosophers, Immanuel Kant.
Today, it’s an exclave separated from the rest of the Russian Federation — but it’s a strategically crucial piece of real estate for Russia. Kaliningrad gives Russia an ice-free port on the Baltic Sea and territory within the heart of the European Union surrounded by North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.
The city of Königsberg was arguably even more important to Germanic culture and history before Kant was ever born. It was the capital of the State of the Teutonic Order, the crusader state, between 1457 and 1525, when the Teutonic State became the Duchy of Prussia, and Königsberg continued to serve as the Prussian capital until 1701, when Berlin became the capital. Russia occupied the ciy for the first time between 1758 and 1764, during the Seven Years’ War. Like many European cities, it was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War.
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An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a Crimea for a Kaliningrad.
Right? (In the meanwhile, Karelia, here’s your chance — with Russian president Vladimir Putin’s focus diverted to Ukraine, you’ll never have a better opportunity to make a bolt to Finland). Continue reading Should Europe be concerned about the threat of Kaliningrad?