Strange States: Kaliningrad
The Russian Spear In NATO’s Side
(Scroll to “Future Map Ukraine” for news updates)
Given the economic turmoil in the West following Moscow’s “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine, Putin securing Donetsk & Lugansk (Donbass) as independent states and the Biden Administration imposing severe sanctions and sending another $54 billion in aid (& with Sweden and Finland seeking to join NATO), it might be wise to become reacquainted with Russia’s strategic exclave in the heart of Europe. With Poland and Lithuania threatening to close the Suwalki Corridor connecting Kaliningrad to Belarus, WW III seemed likely, but Germany blinked due to the number of its soldiers stationed nearby.
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Two hundred miles west of the Russian border, surrounded by European Union nations Poland and Lithuania, is the strange state of Kaliningrad. Founded in 1255 by Teutonic Knights as Königsberg, it was part of the mercantile Hanseatic confederation and capital of East Prussia for almost 700 years. During the unification of Germany in 1871 it was incorporated into the German Empire, but became an exclave of Weimar Germany at the Treaty of Versailles when the Polish Republic was re-established after WWI. The Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 reunified it with the motherland, but at the 1945 Treaty of Potsdam, Truman, Churchill and Stalin agreed to cede the territory to the Soviet Union as a spoil of WWII.
In 1944, 450,000 of its citizens departed the port of Baltiysk for Germany as the Red Army prepared to capture Königsberg during the Evacuation of East Prussia, while the 300,000 Germans that remained died from either Royal Air Force bombing of the city, mistreatment by Red Army forces, or from cold, hunger and disease. During the battle of Königsberg the only land-based sinking of a U-boat in WWII (U-78) occurred at the German submarine training facility at Baltiysk, the port where a majority of its citizens embarked for the motherland.
Since Königsberg’s reunification with Nazi Germany was partially responsible for starting WWII, it couldn’t realistically be returned following the war despite its Teutonic roots. The West never recognized the Soviet annexation of the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania, but Königsberg/Kaliningrad was always an outlier. It was named after Bolshevik Mikhail Kalinin, the head of the Soviet state from 1919-1946. By 1948 the 100,000 remaining Germans were forced out and 400,000 Soviet citizens were moved in.
The surrounding countries at the time were either part of the Soviet Union (the aforementioned Baltic countries) or occupied by its troops (Poland), so Kaliningrad was just another Soviet oblast (province). When the Soviet Union collapsed and Poland and Lithuania declared Independence in 1989 and 1990 respectively, Kaliningrad became an exclave of the Russian Federation. Only 86 square miles in area, Kaliningrad is home today to more than 900,000 Russian citizens. Adding to its isolation from mother Russia, Poland joined NATO in 1999 with the Baltic states following in 2004.
With NATO members Poland and Romania stationing Aegis Ashore ballistic missile interceptor batteries in their countries, the Russians have countered by building up defenses in Kaliningrad, including S-400 batteries and Iskander ballistic (nuclear) missile launchers. The Russians believe the “defensive” Aegis Ashore system can be reconfigured as an offensive weapon and their military deployments in Kaliningrad are a “direct response to the steps taken by NATO.”
“There will be more Iskanders in the exclave, a move that stems from a decision of the general command to boost capabilities of rocket brigades that are already in possession of such systems. Russia plans to enlarge its Iskander brigades from 12 to 16 launchers each, and 32 missiles could be fired simultaneously in one salvo. Moscow will deploy more advanced Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, among others. Typically, Iskanders in Russian military stockpiles have a range of 380–500 kilometers.” (Warsaw Institute 12/16/2019)
In addition, the Russians are in the process of basing an entire division in Kaliningrad, anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 additional troops will be permanently stationed there. “A motorised division consisting of infantry, armoured and artillery regiments will be deployed in Kaliningrad in 2021”, the Russian news agency TASS reported. “The new division will…be part of the 11th Army Corps stationed in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic coast.” (Lithuanian Radio & TV 12/2/2020)
The Baltic Fleet at the ice-free port of Baltiysk and helicopter base at Chkalovsk add to the dynamic of the Russian exclave: a dagger aimed at the heart of Europe. US B-52s have been performing simulated bombing runs on Kaliningrad over the years to test and analyze the Russian response, according to Forbes, calling the oblast a “thorn in NATO’s side”.
Russia’s president stated: “Strategic bombers, which carry precision weapons and are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, were flying as close as 20 kilometers (12 miles) to our border,” Putin said. “That represents a threat for us.”
“…US military officials say they are concerned by what they call Russia’s ability to establish ‘anti-access/area denial’ capabilities, or, weaponry that reduces NATO’s potential freedom to maneuver in the region. Those include some of the modern weapons systems stationed in Kaliningrad, including anti-ship missiles, radar systems and surface-to-air missiles.” (CNN 10/17/2017)
Ironically, Königsberg/Kaliningrad was the birthplace of Enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), who began to question the role of religion in society, yet appreciated the ethical laws it brought to the secularism of his age. He is famous for the Categorical Imperative: “Act only according to that maxim by which you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law” (do unto others), thus replacing religious laws that promoted ethical behavior with the authority of reason, the rules our own intelligence gives us: “a free will and a will under moral laws are one and the same. A universally valid will under which all can be free.”
Kant wanted to create a secular state in which our rational nature ruled. What he would have thought of the obliteration of enlightened Königsberg 140 years after his death would be intriguing; of course, his belief in ethical rationalism evolving into the horrors of the Nazi Übermensch would have been unimaginable, and the genocidal German invasion of Russia and its subsequent scorched-earth response, incomprehensible.
However, his life’s work lives on through the optimistic mission statement of the Immanuel Kant Baltic University in Kaliningrad: “The University mission is to develop interdisciplinary research and education answering global and local agendas that will serve as the basis for critical reflection for the benefit of humanity.”
During Kristallnacht on November 9-10, 1938, Königsberg’s only synagogue was torched by the Nazis. What remained of the building was dismantled by Jewish forced labor, who were then forced to construct barracks on the site for concentration camp laborers sent to the city as slaves. In 2018 a new Kaliningrad synagogue holding 2,000 was opened on the previous place of worship.
On November 30, 2021, President Putin warned NATO against stationing troops and weapons in Ukraine, saying it would cross a red line for Russia. Many Western media outlets reported on December 7, 2021 that President Biden told Putin “where to shove his red lines” during their two-hour video summit. Such bravado from a US president who botched the retreat from Afghanistan after a twenty-year, $2 trillion war against a ragtag Taliban army (prematurely closing Bagram Airbase before evacuating all Americans) is cavalier given he’s taunting a nation with a nuclear launchpad in the heart of Europe that lost 25 million citizens defeating the Nazis. Even Immanuel Kant would agree that is irrational.
Americans typically think they won’t be harmed by a conflict in Europe, but after the US pulled out of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Arms Treaty in 2019, President Putin responded: “Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located”.
US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, commented on CNN January 17, 2022: “If Russia wants to go down the path of invasion and escalation, we’re ready for that, too, with a robust response that will cut off their strategic position.” The Russian response was to threaten stationing military assets in Cuba and Venezuela.
The next day CNN published an interview with Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, who said in response to a question whether Russia would consider withdrawing Iskander missiles from Kaliningrad to ease tensions: “Russia will never discuss with anyone withdrawal of any missiles and any weapons from Kaliningrad because Kaliningrad is a territory of Russia. And with all due respect, we will never tolerate any demands for us to do this or that on our own territory.”
On January 25, 2022, RT reported two nuclear armed warships, the Soobrazitelnyy and Stoikiy of the Baltic Fleet “have been launched from their home port of Baltiys and embarked on a long-destance mission”. Were the two ships headed to Cuba and Venezuela to checkmate the US & NATO?
After State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US would refuse all security concessions proposed by Russia, Foreign Minister Lavrov stated the obvious when addressing the Duma on the 26th of January: "Recently, the United States and its European allies, who have thoroughly forgotten the culture of diplomacy, have redoubled their efforts to 'contain' our country. It is enough to observe the increasingly provocative military manoeuvres near our borders, the push to draw the regime in Kiev into the NATO orbit, to supply it with lethal weapons and push it to carry out direct provocations against Russia."
He then confirmed Russia’s threat to arm Cuba and Venezuela in response to NATO encroachment was real: “President Putin held recent telephone conversations with his colleagues from these three governments (Cuba, Venezuela & Nicaragua), with whom we are very close and friendly, and they agreed to look at further ways to deepen our strategic partnership in all areas, with no exceptions”. He noted Russia already has close relations with these countries in many spheres, “including military and military-technical.”
After receiving an official non-response concerning NATO expansion from the US State Department on January 27, 2022, Foreign Minister Lavrov diplomatically stated, "The content of the US response on security guarantees allows you to count on a serious conversation, but on secondary topics. There is no answer to the most important question - about the non-expansion of NATO to the east and deployment of strike weapons that can pose a threat to the territory of Russia, which we consider unacceptable."
He added in a letter to all NATO member nations: “I am referring to our demands that everyone faithfully implement the agreements on the indivisibility of security that were reached within the OSCE in 1999 in Istanbul and in 2010 in Astana. These agreements provide not only for the freedom to choose alliances, but also make this freedom conditional on the need to avoid any steps that will strengthen the security of any state at the expense of infringing on the security of others…Our Western colleagues are not simply trying to ignore this key principle of international law agreed in the Euro-Atlantic space, but to completely forget it.”
Despite Ukraine and Russia agreeing to an unconditional ceasefire along with Germany and France through the Normandy Format on January 27 (which excludes the United States), Tass reported on January 28, 2022: "According to our intelligence, the Ukrainian General Staff under the guidance of US advisers at the Ukrainian Defense Ministry is putting final touches to a plan for an offensive operation in Donbass. The date of aggression against the people’s republics will be set when the attack groups have been created and the operation’s plan approved by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council,” the Deputy Chief of the Donetsk Peoples’ Republic Militia said.
On January 31, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "The hysteria that the United States is instigating is, indeed, leading to hysteria in Ukraine where people are almost packing frontline bags. This is obvious and this is a fact. This is the downside of this very malicious and damaging campaign being run by Washington. We consistently criticize this stance and call on Washington and its allies on the European continent to give up this policy and assume a constructive, calm and balanced approach.” (Tass 1/31/22)
Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vasily Nebenzya at the UN Security Council also stated on January 31: “The situation in Ukraine can be corrected only if Kiev fulfills the Minsk agreements, which primarily provide for a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk.”
“If our Western colleagues are pushing Kiev to sabotage the Minsk agreements, which the Ukrainian authorities are happy to do, this could end in the most disastrous way for Ukraine. And not because someone will destroy it. But because it will destroy itself. And Russia has absolutely nothing to do with it. Don’t try to shift the blame from the sick to the healthy,” the diplomat continued. (RT 2/2/2022)
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba immediately responded saying in an interview for Rzeczpospolita after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit: "No Ukrainian region will have a right power for national state decisions. This is set in stone! There will be no special status, as Russia imagines it, no voting power,” thus voiding one of the critical tenets of the Minsk Agreement.
With the US having sent 81 tons of munitions and NATO countries sending military advisors and numerous weapons systems, “Would that be enough to help the Ukrainian Army withstand a Russian Army assault, and prevail in a hypothetical battle?” asked retired Russian Colonel Mikhail Khodarenok in RT on January 31.
“The answer to both these questions is ‘no’. Russia’s economic and military potential significantly exceeds Ukraine’s. No supplies of single-use missile launchers or MANPADs can balance out the forces – which is why all the involved parties would be better off looking for a diplomatic solution.”
In a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on February 2, 2022, President Putin outlined Russia’s nightmare scenario: “Let us imagine that Ukraine is a NATO member and is stuffed with weapons and there are state-of-the-art missile systems just like in Poland and Romania. Who will stop it from unleashing operations in Crimea, let alone Donbass? Let us imagine that Ukraine is a NATO member and ventures such a combat operation. Do we have to fight with the NATO bloc? Has anyone thought anything about it? It seems not.”
When President Biden announced an additional 3,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne would be sent to Eastern Europe to bolster NATO defenses later the same day, diplomacy seemed to be taking a backseat.
The French President, however, offered a glimmer of hope: “The geopolitical objective of Russia today is clearly not Ukraine, but to clarify the rules of cohabitation with NATO and the EU,” Macron explained in a weekend interview with the weekly Journal du Dimanche before his departure for Moscow. (RT 2/7/22)
Following his meeting with the French President, President Putin stated: “If Ukraine joins NATO and tries to take Crimea by military means, all European countries will become parties to war with Russia — Russia is the leading nuclear power and there will be no winners — neither Macron, nor I want this.”
He continued: "They are trying to reassure Russia by saying that NATO is a peaceful and purely defensive organization. Iraqis, Libyans, Afghans experienced in their own life the extent to which this corresponds to reality..."
"Ukrainian authorities have already tried twice to solve the Donbass issue with military means. After a failure the Minsk agreements were signed. So will they try again? Who guarantees there won't be a third attempt?"
On February 11, after a phone conversation between Secretary of State Blinken and Foreign Minister Lavrov that preceded one between their respective presidents, the Russian Foreign Ministry summarized the discussion: "The minister emphasized that the propaganda campaign launched by the United States and its allies about 'Russian aggression' against Ukraine has provocative goals, encouraging the authorities in Kiev to sabotage the Minsk Agreements and pernicious attempts to resolve the 'Donbass problems' by force.
"As the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry noted, the reaction by Washington and Brussels to the draft Russian-US treaty and the draft agreement with NATO on security guarantees which we submitted ignores provisions which the Russian side considers to be key, first and foremost on the non-expansion of the alliance and the non-deployment of strike weapons near Russia's border."
Kremlin foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov then gave a summary of the phone conversation between Presidents Biden and Putin on February 12: “Russia’s president spoke with Biden about “destructive” policies pursued by the Ukrainian authorities to “sabotage” the Minsk agreements, a major 2015 multinational deal that outlined a roadmap out of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev forces face off the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia’s president stressed that the Western countries do not put enough “pressure” on Kiev to fulfill the deal.” (RT 2/13/22)
With the West threatening severe sanctions if the Russians do or don’t invade Ukraine, their Ambassador to Sweden captured their sentiment: “Excuse my language, but we don’t give a s**t about sanctions,” Viktor Tatarintsev told Stockholm daily Aftonbladet. The diplomat accused the US and NATO of stoking tensions in Europe. “The expansion of NATO is the biggest threat to Russia,” Tatarintsev said. (RT 2/13/22)
After meeting with President Putin on February 15, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: "For Europeans, it is clear that lasting security cannot be achieved against Russia but only with Russia." The chancellor added the the "inviolability of borders ... is not to be negotiated,"referring to Ukraine. "Dialogue can not end in a cul de sac, that would be a disaster for everyone," he added, "it is important to go the road of diplomacy so as to avoid war in Europe.” (dw.com)
After days of shelling of the Donbass by the Ukrainian Army along the line of control, RT reported: “The Ukrainian rebels are expecting President Volodymyr Zelensky to order an offensive ‘in the nearest future.’ Their military forces are prepared to fight, but civilians in rebel-controlled areas are at risk of being caught in the crossfire, the head of the Donetsk Peoples’ Republic warned.”
“That is why starting today, February 18, a mass evacuation of people to the Russian Federation has been organized,” he said, adding that vulnerable groups like women, children, and the elderly would be given priority.” (RT 2/18/22)
"I urge my fellow citizens who are in the reserves to come to military conscription offices. Today I signed a decree on general mobilization,” stated Denis Pushilin, leader of Donetsk People's Republic on February 19.
In a speech to the nation on February 21, 2022, President Putin stated: "The regime in Kiev only knows aggression, it represents the continuity of the regime that was brought to power illegally in 2014, they only believe in a military solution for Donbass. This is why I decided to recognize the independence of Donetsk Peoples’ Republic and the Lugansk Peoples’ Republic.” In that speech, Ukraine was formally surrounded by the Russian Trifecta: Transnistria, Crimea, Donetsk & Lugansk (Donbass), and it was about to get worse.
Putin continued: “We've made it clear that any further movement of NATO to the East is unacceptable. Is there anything unclear about this? Are we deploying missiles near the US border? No, we are not. It's the US that has come to our home with its missiles and is standing at our doorstep.”
At an emergency UN Security Council meeting the same day, Russian Permanent Representative Vasily Nebenzya stated: “I would like to remind you that at the time of the conclusion of the Minsk agreements, the LPR and DPR had already declared independence. The fact that Russia today recognized it does not change the composition of the parties to the Minsk agreements, since Russia is not one (…) Another thing is that the Minsk agreements have long been openly sabotaged by Ukraine under the auspices of our Western colleagues. Now we see that many colleagues want to sign that the Minsk agreements are dead. But this is not the case (…) We are still open to diplomacy, but we do not intend to allow a new bloody massacre in the Donbass. The main task of our decision [on recognizing independence] was to preserve and protect these lives. This is more important than all your threats.”
On February 24, 2022 President Putin announced the invasion of Ukraine: “Circumstances require us to take decisive and immediate action. The People's Republics of Donbass turned to Russia with a request for help. In this regard, in accordance with Article 51, part 7 of the UN Charter, with the sanction of the Federation Council and in pursuance of the friendship treaties ratified by the Federal Assembly and mutual assistance with the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics, I have decided to conduct a special military operation.” (RT 2/24/22).
The same day Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the incursion would be halted if Ukraine agreed to two demands: “The president formulated his vision of what we would expect from Ukraine in order for the so-called ‘red-line’ problems to be resolved. This is neutral status, and this is a refusal to deploy weapons”.
Apparently, President Putin told his forces to halt operations on February 25 after offering to negotiate with the Ukrainians: “Alexey Arestovich, an adviser at Zelensky’s office, confirmed to Ukrainian media that Kiev has declined the talks with Russia, citing the ‘terms’ put forward by Moscow through intermediaries. ‘It was an attempt to force us into capitulation,’ he said, without elaborating.” (RT 2/26/22)
The Russian invasion continued after President Zelensky rejected negotiations, fleeing from Kiev to Lviv. On February 28 the Ukrainians agreed to talks in Gomel, Belarus after Russia’s deterrence forces were ratcheted up to “a special regime of duty”. Following five hours of discussion they agreed to meet again on March 3 in Brest, Belarus for discussions. Russia’s demands in negotiations with Ukraine are: Crimea is part of the Russian Federation, recognition of the DPR and LPR within administrative borders, demilitarization, which should have certain parameters & Ukraine must undergo the de-nazification procedure, as in Germany post WWII.
During an EU Disarmament Conference video on March 1, Foreign Minister Lavrov reminded the gathering of President Zelensky’s call for Ukraine to acquire nuclear weapons at the Munich Security Conference: "Ukraine has Soviet nuclear technologies and delivery vehicles. We cannot but react to this real danger. I can promise you that Russia as a responsible member of the international community, determined to adhere to its WMD non-proliferation commitments, has been taking every measure to prevent Ukraine from laying hands on nuclear weapons and the related technologies.” (Tass 3/1/22)
“The Russian president has now definitively put an end to the post-Cold War era, which rested on an assumption that major European land wars were gone for good…The threat of thermonuclear conflict was omnipresent for those who came of age during the Cold War…Yet after decades of peace between the West and Russia, that collective cultural awareness has largely dissipated — even though the threat of nuclear conflict remains, and has, in the past week, ramped back up to levels unseen since the Cold War…I fear that Russia’s invasion, regardless of its outcome, portends a new era of immense hostility with Moscow — and that this new cold war will be far worse than the first”. (Professor Mary Elise Sarotte from Johns Hopkins University, in her open letter “I’m A Cold War Historian. We’re In A Frightening New Era”)
The March 3 meeting between Ukraine and Russia in Brest, Belarus was somewhat successful in protecting the lives of civilians: “The parties have reached an understanding on the joint establishment of humanitarian corridors with a temporary ceasefire. Russia and Ukraine will soon create channels of communication and cooperation to organize these corridors,” Ukrainian presidential aide Mikhail Podolyak said. (RT 3/3/22)
RT reported on March 5: “Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that he chose to attack Ukraine beyond the borders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics (DPR and LPR) to prevent the West from ‘endlessly’ supplying ‘nationalists and radicals’ with various resources, such as weapons and money.”
On March 8, a ceasefire was again agreed to by Ukraine and Russia following negotiations in Brest, Belarus: “Russia on Tuesday announced it would observe a ceasefire from 10am Moscow time (12.30pm IST) to allow for humanitarian corridors for civilians to flee from five cities.
“The Russian embassy in India released a statement about the corridors from Kyiv (called Kiev by Russia), Chernigov, Sumy, Kharkiv (called Kharkov by Russia) and Mariupol.” (theweek.in)
Also on March 8 President Biden stated: “Today I am announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy. We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy,” he said at the White House. “That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine.”
Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov and Dmitry Kuleba met in the Turkish province of Antalya on Thursday, March 10, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also attended, but little progress was made towards a ceasefire. However, Lavrov did say: “Those supplying arms to Ukraine must understand that they bear responsibility for their actions. The same goes for those who encourage sending mercenaries to Ukraine to fight there in keeping with the traditions of extreme radicals and their battalions introduced in Ukraine’s everyday life.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that 16,000 foreigners had volunteered to fight for Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
“Around 450 militants from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) armed group, a re-branded Jabhat al-Nusra (the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda), arrived in Ukraine on 8 March to fight against the Russian army.
The militants reportedly left Idlib Province in northern Syria only three days ago, entering Ukraine after passing through Turkey. The militants consist of both Arab and foreign nationals, as HTS, ISIS, and other militias in Syria allow foreigners to join their ranks.
The newly arrived fighters in Ukraine reportedly consist of approximately 300 Syrians, with the rest a mix of Belgian, French, Chechen, Chinese, Tunisian, British, and Moroccan nationals.” (the cradle.com 3/8/22)
“Russia on Saturday (3/12/22) said its troops could target supplies of Western weapons in Ukraine where the Russian army has been advancing since late February.
We warned the United States that the orchestrated pumping of weapons from a number of countries is not just a dangerous move, it is a move that turns these convoys into legitimate targets," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state television.
He said Moscow had warned "about the consequences of the thoughtless transfer to Ukraine of weapons like man-portable air defence systems, anti-tank missile systems and so on.” (Barrons.com)
On March 13, Russia followed up on its threat: “Russia's defence ministry has said its attack on a training facility in Yavoriv killed "up to 180 foreign mercenaries".
The facility, near the city of Lviv, in western Ukraine, also destroyed a large amount of weaponry supplied by other nations, they added.
Defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov told a briefing that Russia would continue its attacks against the "foreign mercenaries”.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan responded: "If there is a military attack on NATO territory it would cause the invocation of Article 5, and we would bring the full force of the NATO alliance to bear in responding to it." (news.sky.com 3/13/22)
To send an additional message not only to the Ukrainians but also NATO, Russia launched its Mach 10 Kinzhal (Dagger) missile against an arms bunker in Western Ukraine: “The Russian military has said it used its state-of-the-art Kinzhal hypersonic missiles to destroy an arms depot near the city of Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine.” (RT 3/19/22)
There were also hints a ceasefire might be agreed to, with the Ukrainians and Russians meeting again in Brest on March 14 and later in the week in Antalya, Turkey: “Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the two sides were nearing agreement on several issues — Moscow’s demand that Kyiv back off its ambitions to join NATO; demilitarization of the country, which Russia has called ‘de-Nazification;’ and proposals to protect the Russian language in Ukraine.” (nypost.com 3/20/22)
Also on March 19, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated: "We never betray our friends in politics. Venezuela is our friend, and Iran is a state that is very close to us. Secondly, we do not pursue selfish interests, unlike the Americans."
In an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, President Zelensky revealed the war could have been avoided if the West had been honest with the Russians about Ukraine’s future: “I requested them personally to say that we are going to accept you into NATO…just say it directly and clearly, or just say no. The response was very clear, you're not going to be a NATO member, but publicly, the doors will remain open.” (nationalfile.com 3/22/22
Following a meeting with Abkhazian President Aslan Bzhania on March 26, Foreign Minister Lavrov stated: "Today a real hybrid war, a 'total war' has been declared against us. This term, which was used by Nazi Germany, is now used by many European politicians when they explain what they want to do to the Russian Federation. And their goals are not hidden: to destroy, to break, to strangle the Russian economy, and Russia as a whole. Here, when we see this sanctions free-for-all, it is of course clear that all of these values that our Western colleagues had constantly preached to us about the freedom of expression, a market economy, the inviolability of private property and the presumption of innocence, all of these values are worthless," he said in a separate engagement with reporters. (sputnik news.com 3/25/22)
And, of course, Kaliningrad made it into the Ukraine war discussion: "Warsaw should seek to ‘claim’ the Kaliningrad region from Russia, General Waldemar Skrzypczak has said. The region has been “under Russian occupation since 1945,” the ex-commander of the Polish Land Forces claimed on the TV show ‘Super Express’ on Friday, March 25.
“It might be worth asking for it, as it used to be with the Regained Territories,” Skrzypczak said, referring to the eastern German territories incorporated into Poland after the defeat of Nazi Germany. “It might be worth asking for this Kaliningrad region, which, in my opinion, is part of the territory of Poland.”
The Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov said on March 30: “All main lines of communications, supply and approach of reserves are taken under full control. The air defense systems of Ukraine, the airfield infrastructure, the largest military depots, training and concentration centers for mercenaries were destroyed. Work on them continues. Thus, all the main tasks of the Russian Armed Forces in the directions of Kiev and Chernigov have been completed.” (rt.com 3/30/22)
Belatedly, it was revealed that German “Chancellor (Scholz) told Zelensky in Munich on February 19 “that Ukraine should renounce its NATO aspirations and declare neutrality as part of a wider European security deal between the West and Russia,” the paper (WSJ) said. “The pact would be signed by Mr. Putin and Mr. Biden, who would jointly guarantee Ukraine’s security.”
Zelensky, however, refused to accept the concession in order to avoid confrontation and said that “[Russia’s President Vladimir] Putin couldn’t be trusted to uphold such an agreement and that most Ukrainians wanted to join NATO.” (massnews.com 4/3/22)
Europeans then woke up to the threat of Kaliningrad: “Chief of the General Staff of the German Army, Eberhard Zorn: ‘Iskander missiles stationed in Kaliningrad can hit all targets in Western Europe. Germany currently has no protective shield against this threat.’” (yahoo.com 4/01/22)
“Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have decided to close their land borders with Russia and Belarus. The event completely isolates and cuts off the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad with Russia as the direct Russia-Kalingrad air connection has been interrupted due to sanctions. This move is declared as a red line for Russia. The commander of the Lithuanian army, Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupshis, warned Moscow, saying there was a joint defense plan with Poland to defend the ‘Suwalki Corridor’ leading to Kaliningrad.” (Vassilis Kapoulas warnews247 4/5/22)
Commenting on the matter, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko expressed hope that “common sense” would prevent the Europeans from “playing with fire”, as such a measure would deprive Kaliningrad residents of the opportunity to reach Russia’s main territory by land.
“I very much hope that common sense in Europe will not allow any games to be played around Kaliningrad. I think many people understand that this is ‘playing with fire,’ the deputy minister told the media."
Not unsurprisingly, Russia’s Foreign Minister weighed in on the true nature of his country’s war in Ukraine: “Our special military operation is meant to put an end to the unabashed expansion [of NATO] and the unabashed drive towards full domination by the US and its Western subjects on the world stage,” Lavrov told Rossiya 24 news channel.
“This domination is built on gross violations of international law and under some rules, which they are now hyping so much and which they make up on a case-by-case basis,” he added. (rt.com 4/11/22)
“Kiev has gone back on the tentative agreements made between the Ukrainian and Russian negotiating teams in Istanbul in late March, Vladimir Putin has claimed. According to the Russian president, the peace talks have now ‘returned to a deadlock’.
Ukraine has refused to recognize Crimea as Russian and the Donbass republics as independent, Putin explained at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East on Tuesday.” (rt.com 4/13/22)
“Russia will view U.S. and NATO vehicles transporting weapons on Ukrainian territory as legitimate military targets, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the TASS news agency in an interview on Wednesday.
Any attempts by the West to inflict significant damage on Russia’s military or its separatist allies in Ukraine will be “harshly suppressed,” he added. We are warning that US-NATO weapons transports across Ukrainian territory will be considered by us as legal military targets,” TASS quoted Ryabkov as saying.
We are making the Americans and other Westerners understand that attempts to slow down our special operation, to inflict maximum damage on Russian contingents and formations of the DPR and LPR (Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics) will be harshly suppressed,” he said.” (nationalist.com 4/13/22)
Also on April 13, 2022 the Russian Ministry of Defense warned: “We see attempts of sabotage and strikes by Ukrainian forces against facilities on Russian Federation territory.
If such cases continue, the Russian Armed Forces will strike at decision-making centres, including in Kiev, from which the Russian army has so far refrained,” Major-General Konashenkov said.
The West can’t say it wasn’t warned: “Russia this week sent a formal diplomatic note to the United States warning that U.S. and NATO shipments of the “most sensitive” weapons systems to Ukraine were “adding fuel” to the conflict there and could bring “unpredictable consequences.” (washingtonpost.com 4/14/22)
“The US and its allies have slapped a grand total of over 9,600 sanctions against Russian officials, the state, companies, tycoons and other entities in connection with the crisis in Ukraine. Moscow now has more restrictions against it than Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela and Myanmar combined. Russia has successfully withstood unprecedented sanctions pressure from the West.
The calculation was to quickly undermine the financial and economic situation in our country, to provoke panic in the markets, the collapse of the banking system, and a large-scale shortage of goods in stores," Putin said, speaking at a briefing on the economic situation on Monday. We can say with confidence that this policy against Russia has failed - that the strategy of the economic blitzkrieg has failed," he added. (sputniknews.com 4/18/22)
“The Russian Aerospace Forces launched a strike with high-precision missiles at the 124th Joint Logistics Support Center of the Logistics Forces Command of the Ukrainian troops in the Lviv region, the Russian Defense Ministry reports on 4/18/22. The logistics center and the large consignments of foreign weapons that were delivered to Ukraine from the United States and European countries over the past 6 days were destroyed.”
“The second phase of the Russian offensive in Ukraine and the Donbass has started, President Volodymyr Zelensky and his advisers claimed on Monday evening. Kiev said there were reports of heavy fighting on the Donetsk, Lugansk, and Kharkov fronts, and that Ukrainian troops were holding the line.
We can now confirm that Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbass, which they have been preparing for a long time,” Zelensky said” (rt.com 4/18/22)
“In a new 'message' aimed at the West, Russia on Wednesday (4/20/22) test launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile, the Sarmat, according to Interfax citing the Russian defense ministry.
President Vladimir Putin said in a statement which accompanied the announcement that the new Sarmat missile will provide ‘food for thought for those who try to threaten Russia." He congratulated the armed forces on the successful test launch. According to another translation, he said that the Sarmat will "make the madmen who attempt to threaten Russia think.’”
The Russian President warned the West again about its ongoing interference in the war on behalf of Ukraine: “I would like to stress once again that if someone intends to interfere with the ongoing events from the outside and creates strategic threats unacceptable to Russia, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning-fast. We have all the tools for this, such that no one can boast of now. And we will not boast, we will use them if necessary. And I want everyone to know about this, all the decisions we have made in this regard,” Putin remarked to the Council of Legislators of the Federal Assembly in the Tauride Palace on 4/27/22.
“Three minutes and 33 seconds. That’s how long state-owned television channel Rossiya 1 claims it would take a nuclear missile to reach Paris from Kaliningrad, a Russian territorial enclave between Poland and Lithuania.
The propaganda channel showed how many seconds it would take a nuclear Sarmat-missile, one of the latest additions to Russia’s nuclear arsenal, to reach different European capitals. London: 202 seconds, Paris: 200 seconds, Berlin: 106 seconds.
An infographic shows arrows pointing from Kaliningrad to the cities, indicating the length of the hypothetical journey. “Look at this image, count the seconds… It’s already there!” Presenter Olga Skabeïeva boasts with what would appear to be excitement. “One Sarmat missile and it’s done: no more UK.” (brusselstimes.com 5/2/22)
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reiterated Wednesday: "The United States and its NATO allies continue to pump weapons into Ukraine. I can confirm that any transport from the North Atlantic alliance that arrives in the country with weapons or materiel for the Ukrainian armed forces will be considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction.” (sputniknews.com 5/4/22)
“As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its 10th week, the Kremlin’s Ministry of Defense said its forces had practiced nuclear-capable missile strikes on the Baltic coast in Kaliningrad, near European Union members Lithuania and Poland.” (yahoo.com 5/5/22)
“According Ukrainska Pravda sources close to Zelenskyy, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, who appeared in the capital almost without warning, brought two simple messages. The first is that Putin is a war criminal, he should be pressured, not negotiated with. And the second is that even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they are not. Johnson’s position was that the collective West, which back in February had suggested Zelenskyy should surrender and flee, now felt that Putin was not really as powerful as they had previously imagined, and that here was a chance to "press him.” Three days after Johnson left for Britain, Putin went public and said talks with Ukraine "had turned into a dead end”. (pravda.com.ua 5/5/22)
“The current generation of NATO politicians clearly does not take the nuclear threat seriously,” ambassador Anatoly Antonov told Newsweek. While it’s widely believed that a direct war between NATO and Russia would quickly turn nuclear, the danger doesn’t appear to be factored into the Western approach to the war in Ukraine.” (5/6/22)
"In a nuclear war, NATO countries will be destroyed by us in half an hour, but we must not allow it, because the consequences of the exchange of nuclear strikes will affect the state of our Earth. Therefore, we will have to defeat this economically and militarily more powerful enemy by conventional military means,” Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency (Newsweek.com 5/8/22)
“NATO countries did not want to hear us, they had completely different plans, preparations were made for an attack on Crimea, the alliance began military development of the territories adjacent to us, everything indicated that a clash with neo-Nazis would be inevitable.” (Putin Victory Day Speech 5/9/22)
“The former president of Russia has warned NATO that military assistance for Ukraine risks sparking a wider conflict. Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said the supply of weapons to Ukraine “increased the likelihood of a direct and open conflict between NATO and Russia instead of their ‘war by proxy’.” (cnbc.com 5/12/22)
“As soon as Finland and Sweden become NATO members and NATO units are deployed to these countries— Finland and Sweden will become targets for the Russian military.” - Deputy Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Polyansky (5/12/22)
The West has declared a “total hybrid war” against Russia, resorting to open “robbery” and “state piracy,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday. Everyone “without exception” is set to feel the impact of this conflict, the top diplomat warned.
“Political correctness, decency, rules, and the legal norms are simply discarded, the cancel culture is applied to everything Russian, any hostile actions against our country are allowed, including outright robbery,” Lavrov said during his speech at a meeting of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council (SVOP) forum. We did all we could to avoid the confrontation, but Russia accepts the challenge. It's not like sanctions are something new to us – they have been in place in some sense practically for the entire time”. (rt.com 5/14/22)
“No negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations are being conducted at the moment. In fact, Kiev has quit the talks, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said on the sidelines of the 2nd Central Asian conference of the international discussion club Valdai. ‘The talks are not continuing. Ukraine has in fact quit the process of negotiations,’" he said in reply to a TASS question. (Tass.com 5/17/22)
The New York Times published an editorial devoid of the usual Western propaganda: “The War In Ukraine Is Getting Complicated, And America Isn’t Ready”, wherein it states: “A decisive military victory for Ukraine over Russia, in which Ukraine regains all the territory Russia has seized since 2014, is not a realistic goal...Russia remains too strong, and Mr. Putin has invested too much personal prestige in the invasion to back down...Mr. Biden should make clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his people that there is a limit to how far the United States and NATO will confront Russia, and limits to the arms, money and political support they can muster”. (nytimes.com 5/19/22)
“Russia is tightening the noose on Ukrainian troops in the country's east. A fierce ground and artillery assault has seen Moscow's forces advance, and they now appear close to encircling the last two hold-out cities in Luhansk province — which together with neighboring Donetsk forms the Donbas region that has become the key focus of the Kremlin’s war. With Ukrainian officials voicing concern their troops are now outmanned and outgunned, this Russian push could prove a decisive moment in the conflict.” (yahoo.news 5/26/22)
“The US and its allies have communicated to Ukraine the danger of escalation should weapons provided by the West be used to attack targets inside Russia, according to a report from Reuters, citing anonymous officials, on Thursday. However, Washington has apparently not explicitly banned Kiev from taking such action.” (rt.com 5/26/22)
“Under the fire of Russia’s long-range arsenal and facing a desperate need for ammunition and weapons, Ukrainian forces remain outgunned on the long and pockmarked eastern front, according to military analysts, Ukrainian officials and soldiers on the ground. Just one engagement on Thursday and Friday on a small swath of the line, in a forest north of the town of Sloviansk, sent about a dozen Ukrainian soldiers to a military hospital with harrowing shrapnel wounds. ‘You ask how the fighting is going,’ said Oleksandr Kolesnikov, the commander of a company of soldiers fighting in the forest, interviewed on an ambulance gurney outside a military hospital in Kramatorsk. ‘There was a commander of the company. He was killed. There was another commander. He was killed. A third commander was wounded. I am the fourth.’” (nytimes.com 5/28/22)
“No amount of western military aid has been able to prevent Russia from achieving its military objective of liberating the entire territories of both Lugansk and Donetsk as Phase Three begins.” Scott Ritter: consortium news.com 5/30/22)
“Russia on Wednesday sharply criticised a U.S. decision to supply advanced rocket systems and munitions to Ukraine, warning of an increased risk of direct confrontation with Washington. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "We believe that the United States is purposefully and diligently adding fuel to the fire.” When asked how Russia would respond if Ukraine used U.S.-supplied rockets to strike Russian territory, Peskov said: "Let's not talk about worst-case scenarios”. (yahoo.com 6/1/22)
"Our relevant agencies, including the Defense Ministry and border guards, understand all the risks, they are comprehensively evaluating them and taking the necessary measures," Peskov said, when asked if Moscow saw the risk that Ukraine might start attacking Russia with US-made multiple rocket launchers if provided with such weapons.
At the same time, Peskov was confident that the US was adding fuel to the fire of what was happening in Ukraine by providing weapons to Kiev. "The US is clearly pursuing a policy to fight Russia until the last Ukrainian," the Kremlin spokesman noted, commenting on Washington’s plans to provide multiple rocket launchers to Kiev. According to Peskov, "these sorts of supplies are unlikely to make the Ukrainian leadership willing to resume peace talks." "This is why we are certainly negative about it," the Russian presidential spokesman stressed. (Tass.com 6/1/22)
“Alexei Zhuravlev, a member of Russia’s parliament, proclaimed on the state TV channel Russia-1 Monday that the country has the capability to launch a devastating nuclear attack on the US over its support of Ukraine in the war. ‘I will tell you absolutely competently that to destroy the entire the East Coast of the United States, two Sarmat missiles are needed,’ the pro-Kremlin pundit said, referring to Russia’s new intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are known as Satan-2 in NATO countries. ‘And the same goes for the West Coast,’ Zhuravlev continued. “Four missiles, and there will be nothing left.’” (nypost.com 6/2/22)
“Ukraine will use US-supplied rocket systems to strike into Russian territory should it deem such attacks necessary, Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Alexey Arestovich said on Thursday. Responding to a question about whether the restrictions on the use of US-supplied rocket systems apply to Crimea, a peninsula that overwhelmingly voted to become part of Russia in a 2014 referendum, Arestovich said that it belonged to Ukraine. ‘Crimea is ours. It belongs to Ukraine. And they [Russia] know it. Therefore, it will fly to Crimea double-time, should the need arise’, he pointed out, alleging that Kiev has already successfully struck targets on the peninsula.” (rt.com 6/3/22)
“Moscow will strike Ukraine’s ‘decision-making centers’ if Kiev uses the weapons it had received from the United States to attack the territory of Russia, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview to Qatar’s Al Jazeera television. ‘If those types of weapons are used against the territory of Russia, the armed forces of our country will have no other choice but to strike decision-making centers,’ he said. ‘It is obvious what those decision-making centers are: the defense ministry, the general staff and so on,’ he continued. ‘But it should be understood that, in this case, the ultimate decision-making centers are regretfully not even on the territory of Kiev. That is why it is certainly a threat that should be reckoned with.’” (Tass.com 6/3/22)
What if those “ultimate decision-making centers” include the US?: “(General Glen D. VanHerck, commander of United States Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command) characterize(d) Russia as the ‘primary military threat’ to the US, and referenced Russian efforts to deploy new hypersonic and cruise missiles and other stealthy strike weapons which can evade detection and ‘strike targets in our homeland with multiple vectors of attack and in all domains’. VanHerck pointed to Russian plans to deploy new long-range missiles which could reach the US from both northern or southern trajectories, and said such attack vectors would deprive US leaders of the ability to respond effectively to protect government functions and order retaliatory strikes. ‘Quite bluntly, my ability to conduct missions assigned to US NORTHCOM and NORAD has eroded and continues to erode,’ VanHerck said, speaking to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee at a closed briefing last month.” (sputniknews.com 6/3/22)
“President Vladimir Putin warned the United States in an interview broadcast on Sunday that Russia would strike new targets if the West supplied longer-range missiles to Ukraine for use in high-precision mobile rocket systems. If longer-range missiles are supplied, ‘we will strike at those targets which we have not yet been hitting,’ Putin was told the Rossiya-1 state television channel in an interview.” (Reuters.com 6/4/22)
“The longer the range of weapons that Western countries will supply to Ukraine, the further Moscow will move away the line of threat from its territory, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at an online press conference on international issues on Monday. ‘Russian President Vladimir Putin has already commented on the situation that will emerge with the arrival of new armaments and I can only add that the longer the range of armaments that you will supply, the further away we will move from our territory the line, beyond which Neo-Nazis can threaten the Russian Federation,’ Lavrov cautioned.” (Tass.com 6/6/22)
“The Ukrainians are still fighting back, but they are running out of ammunition and suffering casualties at a far higher rate than in the initial stages of the war. Around 200 Ukrainian soldiers are now being killed every day, up from 100 late last month, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky told the BBC on Friday — meaning that as many as 1,000 Ukrainians are being taken out of the fight every day, including those who are injured.
Ukrainian and U.S. hopes that the new supplies of Western weaponry would enable Ukraine to regain the initiative and eventually retake the estimated 20 percent of Ukrainian territory captured by Russia since its Feb. 24 invasion are starting to look premature, said Oleksandr V. Danylyuk, an adviser to the Ukrainian government on defense and intelligence issues.” (washingtonpost.com 6/10/22)
“The West could provide Ukraine with nuclear weapons to help defend itself against Russia, Radoslaw Sikorski, a member of the European Parliament and former Polish foreign minister, said. ‘The West has the right to give Ukraine nuclear warheads so that it could protect its independence,’ Sikorski told Ukraine’s Espreso TV on Saturday. Sikorski, who served as Poland’s foreign minister between 2007 and 2014, argued that Russia violated the Budapest Memorandum. Under the 1994 document signed by Ukraine, Russia, Britain, and the US, Kiev agreed to surrender its Soviet-era nuclear arsenal. The signatories promised to ‘respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.’” (rt.com 6/12/22)
“China is ready to continue to support each other with Russia on issues of sovereignty and security” – Xi Jinping in a conversation with Putin. (6/14/22)
“Ukraine should target the bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland via the Kerch Strait as soon as it gets the required weapons from the West, Major General Dmitry Marchenko said on Wednesday in an interview with US state-run media. ‘The Kerch Bridge is absolutely our number one target,’ Marchenko told Crimea Realities (Krym.Realii), speaking of the longest such construction in Europe, opened in 2018. The website is a project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, part of the government-controlled US Agency for Global Media. ‘As the main way of sending in reserves, we just have to cut it off. As soon as that road is cut off, they will start to panic. And believe me, those who flew Russian flags in Simferopol will quickly get Ukrainian flags and start flying them instead,’ he said. (rt.com 6/15/22)
"‘Just a question,’ Dmitry Medvedev wrote on his Telegram channel. ‘Who said that in two years Ukraine will even exist on the world map?’ Medvedev, Russian Security County Deputy Chairman, made the alarming comments in reference to reports that the United States may consider supplying Ukraine with liquefied natural gas (LNG) under a "lend-lease" program ahead of the autumn and winter months amid Putin's war. ‘I saw a message that Ukraine wants to receive LNG from its overseas owners with payment for delivery in 2 years. Otherwise, the coming winter will simply freeze," Medvedev wrote, before he expressed doubts about Ukraine's existence in 2024. ‘The Americans don't care anymore,’ he added. ‘They have invested so much in the 'anti-Russia' project that everything else means nothing to them.’” (Newsweek.com 6/15/22)
"The Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said it was no longer possible for Ukraine to return to its previous borders. 'The Ukraine that you and I had known, within the borders that used to be, no longer exists, and will never exist again. This is evident,' the diplomat said in an interview to Sky News - Arabia, published in her Telegram channel on Friday.” (Tass.com 6/18/22)
“Lithuania has told the Russian region of Kaliningrad that it will block the import and export of a large number of goods by rail because of Western sanctions, the regional governor said on Friday. The region - home to the Russian Baltic Fleet and a deployment location for nuclear-capable Iskander missiles - is sandwiched on the Baltic coast between Lithuania and Poland, both Nato members, and has no land border with Russia. Governor Anton Alikhanov said the clampdown would affect between 40 percent to 50 percent of the products that are imported to and exported from Russia through Lithuania. ‘We consider this to be a most serious violation ... of the right to free transit into and out of Kaliningrad region,’ he said in an online video posting, adding that authorities would press to have the measures lifted. Urging citizens not to resort to panic buying, Alikhanov said two vessels were already ferrying goods between Kaliningrad and Saint Petersburg, and seven more would be in service by the end of the year. ‘Our ferries will handle all the cargo’”, he said on Saturday.” (https://news.rthk.hk/rthk 6/18/22)
The three decade long pact formally establishing the Lithuanian frontier with the Russian Federation included transit rights to Kaliningrad. Now that the Lithuanians have reneged on transportation rights for Russian trains to Kaliningrad, does that mean the border agreement is null and void as well? Lithuania is a NATO member, so if Russia breaks the blockade will the West respond, thus triggering WW III?
“Lithuania should have realized that it will face serious consequences for restricting railroad transits of goods to Russia’s exclave region of Kaliningrad, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday. ‘They should be aware of consequences, and the consequences will follow, unfortunately,’ Maria Zakharova told the Solovyov Live television channel. If Russia qualifies other countries’ decisions as ‘openly hostile,’ there won’t be any attempts to find a ‘formula’ to defuse the situation, Zakharova said. ‘Such steps are inadmissible, they will bring about an appropriate response,’ the diplomat said.” (Tass.com 6/21/22)
“NATO member state Lithuania is now effectively engaged in ‘direct aggression’ against Russia, senator Andrey Klimov argued in a Telegram post on Monday, citing Vilnius’ decision to stop the transit of sanctioned goods to Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad. According to the Russian politician, who heads a commission for the defense of state sovereignty, by refusing to let certain goods pass through its territory to the Russian region, Lithuania has violated a treaty signed between Moscow and Brussels 20 years ago. Unless the EU brings its member state to heel and forces it to respect the accord, a huge question mark would be hanging over the legal basis for Lithuania’s membership in the bloc, Klimov argued. The senator stressed that in this case, Moscow would have a free hand to ‘solve the problem of the Kaliningrad transit created by Lithuania by ANY means chosen by us.’” (rt.com 6/21/22)
“Russia's response to the restrictions targeting cargo transit from Kaliningrad through Lithuania will NOT be diplomatic - Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.” (@intelrepublic 6/22/22)
“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.” (Christopher Black journal-neo.org 6/24/22)
“Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday told his counterpart from Belarus that Moscow would supply Minsk with missile systems capable of carrying nuclear weapons, the Russian foreign ministry said. At a meeting with Putin in St Petersburg, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko expressed concern about the ‘aggressive’, ‘confrontational’ and ‘repulsive’ policies of its neighbours Lithuania and Poland. He asked Putin to help Belarus mount a ‘symmetrical response’ to what he said were nuclear-armed flights by the U.S.-led NATO alliance near Belarus' borders. In the past week, Lithuania in particular has infuriated Russia by blocking the transit of goods subject to European sanctions travelling across its territory from Russia, through Belarus, to Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.” (usnews.com 6/25/22)
“Russian forces launched missile attacks from Belarus on Saturday in the first strikes of their kind since Russia abandoned its offensives north and east of Kyiv. A wave of six Russian Tu-22M3 “Backfire” bombers launched 12 Kh-22 cruise missilesfrom Belarusian airspace at ground targets in Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy oblasts. The Ukrainian government claimed this is thus far the first time Russian aircraft have launched airstrikes on Ukrainian territory from Belarusian airspace.” (thedrive.com 6/25/22)
Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev has said Moscow could respond to Lithuania’s ban of transit to Kaliningrad by taking economic measures that have the potential to pull the plug on the Baltic nation. ‘Let's face it, the restriction of transit is part of the proxy war that the West has unleashed against Russia,’ Medvedev said in an interview to the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper, an excerpt of which was published on Monday. ‘Naturally, Russia will take retaliatory measures, and they will be very tough.’ He said a significant proportion of the possible retaliatory moves is economic and "is capable of pulling the plug on the Baltic neighbors that have acted in a hostile manner.” (Tass.com 6/27/22)
“Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned the West that continuing to supply Ukraine with advanced weaponry will only prolong the conflict in the east European country. Speaking at a press conference, on Tuesday, the veteran diplomat stated that the position of the West regarding Ukraine is ‘absolutely counterproductive and harmful.’ Pumping up Ukraine with Western weapons will only lead Russia ‘to perform more missions on the ground,’ he added. ‘The more weapons are pumped into Ukraine, the longer this conflict will last, the longer the agony of the Nazi regime, which is supported by Western capitals, will last.’” (rt.com 6/29/22)
“NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday that increases in military spending and rising numbers of troop deployments in Eastern Europe since 2014 were carried out in anticipation of a conflict with Russia. Speaking after a meeting of NATO members and partner states in Madrid, Stoltenberg accused Moscow of ‘using force in the eastern Donbass since 2014,’ despite the fact that Kiev’s forces have been shelling cities in the region ever since the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics declared independence from Ukraine that year.” (rt.com 6/29/22)
“Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said that the country will continue to implement the terms of the fourth package of EU sanctions against Russia and stop the transit of other goods to Kaliningrad Oblast from July 10, when the restrictions are set to come into effect. ‘Carriers were informed that from July 10, certain guidelines regarding sanctions will come into force, so that they do not load cargo after that date,’" she said. (Ukrinform.net 6/30/22)
“The European Commission plans to issue a clarification that will allow Russia to resume sending supplies to the exclave of Kaliningrad via Lithuania. Berlin supports the idea, but some in Vilnius are not pleased. DER SPIEGEL has learned that the European Commission intends to publish a clarification on the issue in the coming days. Its key message will be that Moscow will be allowed to use the transit route for all goods, but only limited amounts. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is eager to avoid unnecessary provocations of Russia. He has repeatedly emphasized that he would do everything in his power to ensure that NATO does not become a party to the war between Russia and Ukraine. German soldiers are stationed in Lithuania and could become involved in a possible conflict.
‘It’s not us that changed position,’ is a statement heard frequently from sources close to the Lithuanian government these days. And discontent with Berlin is significant. ‘The Germans have been putting pressure on the EU Commission since June 18 to ensure that the sanctions do not apply to Kaliningrad,’ says a Lithuanian representative who is familiar with the negotiations.” (spiegel.de 7/1/22)
Meanwhile, “The last remnants of Ukrainian forces have been driven out of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced on Sunday. He reported the news to President Vladimir Putin, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. Shoigu said Russian troops and Donbass forces had completely seized Lisichansk, the last major city which had remained under Ukrainian control since 2014, when the LPR declared its independence shortly after a coup in Kiev.” (rt.com 7/3/22)
“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. What can you say, let them try,” Putin said in televised remarks to parliamentary leaders. “We have heard many times that the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it seems that everything is heading towards this. Everyone should know that, by and large, we haven’t started anything yet in earnest,” he added. “At the same time, we don’t reject peace talks. But those who reject them should know that the further it goes, the harder it will be for them to negotiate with us.” (Nationalpost.com 7/7/22)
“They should have realized that they had already lost from the very beginning of our special military operation, because its beginning also means the beginning of a complete breakdown of the American world order.” Vladimir Putin (rt.com 7/7/22)
“Russia warned Lithuania and the European Union on Friday that it could adopt ‘harsh measures’ against them if the transit of some goods to and from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad did not resume. ‘If the situation does not stabilize in the coming days, then Russia will take harsh measures against Lithuania and the European Union,’ Maria Zakharova, spokesperson of the Russian foreign ministry, said in a statement. ‘The issue has taken too long to resolve.’ (reuters.com 7/8/22)
“Governor of Russia’s Kaliningrad Region Anton Alikhanov has proposed a total ban on the movement of goods between Russia and the three Baltic states in response to what authorities in the exclave have called a ‘blockade’ by Lithuania.
‘As a reciprocal measure we propose to completely prohibit the movement of goods (including those in transit from third countries) between the three Baltic States and Russia,’ Alikhanov said on Monday, adding that Kaliningrad Region would be exempted from the ban.” (rt.com 7/11/22)
“The EU is in talks with Lithuania on lifting sanctions on the transit of goods to Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad, the newspaper Izvestia reported on Wednesday, citing two unnamed Russian officials. The officials told the news outlet that the EU had sent a draft document to Moscow in early July outlining that the transit of goods by both rail and road from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad would be removed from sanctions. However, the sources said that Vilnius, which previously blocked shipments of goods to the region via Lithuania’s territory in order to comply with sanctions, has not yet agreed to finalize the document.” (rt.com 7/13/22)
“Russia is in a ‘world war’ with Western nations amid Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday. ‘We should understand that amid the world war, all the talks that it's is a regional or a local war must be dropped,’ Vucic, an ally of Putin, told independent Serbian TV channel Pink in an interview. ‘The entire Western world is fighting against Russia via Ukrainians. It is a global conflict,’ he said, according to Russia's state-run news agency TASS.” (Newsweek.com 7/14/22)
“Committee of Constitutional Legislation of Russia’s Federation Council, Andrey Klishas, called for extending the special military operation to the entirety of ‘Ukraine’:
‘Threats from the Ukrainian junta to attack Crimea or the Crimean bridge only confirm that ‘denazification’ and demilitarization must be carried out throughout the whole of Ukraine, otherwise there will always be a threat to our territory, our citizens and infrastructure,’”. (rt.com 7/16/22)
“If Ukraine receives long-range weapons from Western countries, then the geographical tasks of the special operation of the Russian troops will change, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT and the Rossiya Segodnya media group.
‘The President said very clearly, as you quoted him - denazification, demilitarization in the sense that there are no threats to our security, military threats from the territory of Ukraine, this task remains,’ the minister stressed.” (RIA Novosti 7/20/22)
World War III averted? “The Baltic state of Lithuania has lifted a ban on the rail transport of sanctioned goods into and out of the Russian territory of Kaliningrad, Russia's RIA news agency said on Friday.” (Reuters.com 7/22/22)
“Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov views the resolution of the cargo transit crisis to Russia’s westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad as a positive development. ‘The crisis situation has been resolved, it is a positive development. Sometimes we see some seeds of common sense even amid an anti-Russia hysteria. Let’s hope that these seeds will continue to bear fruit,’ he told reporters on Wednesday.” (Tass.com 7/27/22)
“Russia's decades long attempt to integrate with the west is not only over, but even cooperation is now off the cards, a senior strategist in Moscow has warned. Aleksey Drobinin, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Foreign Policy Planning Department, believes that future dealings can only take place on a ‘transactional’ basis.‘Regardless of the duration and outcome of the special military operation, even now we can acknowledge that a three-decade-long period of mostly constructive, if problematic cooperation with the West is gone for good,’ he said.” (rt.com 8/3/22)
“Tallinn and Helsinki have discussed the integration of coastal missile batteries that would enable the two Western states to blockade the Russian Navy in the Gulf of Finland, Estonia’s defense minister announced on Friday. This would turn the Baltic Sea into a ‘NATO internal sea,’ the official said, echoing comments made earlier by Polish and Lithuanian leaders. Finland has applied to join the US-led military bloc.” (rt.com 8/12/22)
“If the US designates Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, it would represent ‘a point of no return’ in relations between the two countries, and Washington is aware of that, Moscow has explained. In an interview with TASS published on Saturday, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North American Department, Aleksandr Darichev, was asked about the possibility of downgrading relations with the US over its support for Ukraine in the conflict with Russia and the unprecedented sanctions imposed on Moscow.” (rt.com 8/13/22)
“Western curators have practically written off the Kyiv regime and are already planning the partition of Ukraine, Foreign Intelligence Service spokesman Colonel-General Volodymyr Matveev said at the Moscow Conference on International Security. ‘Obviously, the West is not concerned about the fate of the Kyiv regime. As can be seen from the information received by the SVR, Western curators have almost written it off and are in full swing developing plans for the division and occupation of at least part of the Ukrainian lands,’ he said. However, according to the general, much more is at stake than Ukraine: for Washington and its allies, it is about the fate of the colonial system of world domination.” (MOSCOW, August 16 - RIA Novosti)
No doubt the nuclear armed Russian warships, the Soobrazitelnyy and Stoikiy, of the Baltic Fleet are in the Caribbean to checkmate the US & NATO, not to mention the Iskander & Kalibr ballistic missiles based in Kaliningrad.
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