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Andreas Kluth

Russian Kaliningrad Is a Microcosm of Europe’s Woes

Like a zombie from the graveyard of past European strife, Kaliningrad has risen again to sow discord.

Kaliningrad on edge.

Kaliningrad on edge.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad — known until 1946 by its German name of Koenigsberg — is a microcosm of all that’s ever gone wrong in Europe. So it’s hardly surprising that this strip of land by the Baltic Sea has become the latest flashpoint in the wider conflict between Moscow and the West. 

The clash was probably inevitable. Kaliningrad is a part of Russia implausibly wedged between Lithuania and Poland, two countries that belong to the European Union and NATO. Rail links between mainland Russia and the exclave must go through Lithuania, which has started enforcing EU sanctions against Moscow. That means blocking Russian trains that carry restricted freight such as coal, steel and kit containing certain technologies.