Kaliningrad question

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Location of Kaliningrad Oblast in Europe
Kalinigrad Oblast on the map of Russia

The Kaliningrad question (German: Kaliningrad-Frage or Königsberg-Frage; Lithuanian: Kaliningrado klausimas or Karaliaučiaus klausimas; Polish: Kwestia Kaliningradu or Kwestia Królewca; Russian: Калининградский вопрос, romanizedKaliningradskiy vopros) is a political question concerning the status of Kaliningrad Oblast as an exclave of Russia,[1] and its isolation from the rest of the Baltic region following the 2004 enlargement of the European Union.[1]

In Western media, the region is often discussed in relation to the deployment of missile systems, initially as a response to the deployment of missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.[2] Russia views the region as a vital element of its ability to project power in the Baltic region.[3]

A fringe position also considers the return of the province to Germany from the Russian Federation, or its independence from both.[4][5] The former question is mostly hypothetical, as the German government has stated that it has no claim to it and has formally renounced in international law any right to any lands east of the Oder by ratifying the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany.

History[edit]

Refugees from Königsberg fleeing to western Germany before the advancing Red Army in 1945

Kaliningrad, or Königsberg, had been a part of the Teutonic Order, Duchy of Prussia (for some time a Polish vassal), Kingdom of Prussia, and the German Empire for 684 years before the Second World War. The lands of Prussia were originally inhabited by Baltic tribes, the Old Prussians, with their language becoming extinct by the 18th century.[citation needed]

The incorporation of the Königsberg area of East Prussia to Russia became a stated war aim of the Soviet Union at the Tehran Conference in December 1943.[6] In 1945, at the end of World War II, the city was captured by the Soviet Union (see Battle of Königsberg). As agreed by the Allies at the Potsdam Conference, northern East Prussia, including Königsberg, was given to the USSR. Specifically, it became an exclave of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, separated from the rest of the Republic by the Lithuanian and Byelorussian SSRs. The southern parts of East Prussia were transferred to Poland. In 1946, the name of the city of Königsberg was changed to Kaliningrad.

In October 1945, only about 5,000 Soviet civilians lived in the territory.[7] Between October 1947 and October 1948, about 100,000 Germans were forcibly moved to Germany.[8] About 400,000 Soviet civilians arrived by 1948.[7] Some moved voluntarily, but as the number of willing settlers proved insufficient, collective farms were given quotas of how many people they had to send to Kaliningrad.[7] Often they sent the least socially desirable individuals, such as alcoholics or the uneducated.[7]

In the 1950s, Nikita Khrushchev suggested that the Lithuanian SSR should annex Kaliningrad Oblast. The offer was refused by the Lithuanian Communist Party leader Antanas Sniečkus, who did not wish to alter the ethnic composition of his republic.[9][10] In the late Soviet era, rumors spread that the Oblast might be converted into a homeland for Soviet Germans.[11]

Kaliningrad Oblast remained part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991, and since then has been an exclave of the Russian Federation. After the Soviet collapse, some descendants of the expellees and refugees traveled to the city to examine their roots.[12] According to the 2010 Russian Census, 7,349 ethnic Germans live in the Oblast, making up 0.8% of the population.[13]

In Germany, the status of Kaliningrad (Königsberg) and the rights of expellees was a mainstream political issue until the 1960s, when the shifting political discourse increasingly associated similar views with right-wing revisionism.[8]

According to a Der Spiegel article published in 2010, in 1990 the West German government received a message from the Soviet general Geli Batenin, offering to return Kaliningrad.[14] The offer was never seriously considered by the Bonn government, who saw reunification with the East as its priority.[14] However, this story was later denied by Mikhail Gorbachev.[15]

In 2001, the EU was alleged to be in talks with Russia to arrange an association agreement with the Kaliningrad Oblast, at a time when Russia could not repay £22 billion debt owed to Berlin, which may have given Germany some influence over the territory.[12] Claims of "buying back" Kaliningrad (Königsberg) or other "secret deals" were repudiated by both sides.[16]

Another rumor about a debt-related deal, published by the Russian weekly Nash Continent, alleged that Putin and Edmund Stoiber had agreed on the gradual return of Kaliningrad in return for waiving the country's $50 billion debt to Germany.[17]

After annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, some newspapers proposed that Kaliningrad Oblast should be return to West. On 28 April 2014, The Baltic Times proposed that the West should take back Kaliningrad from Russia in exchange.[18] This proposal was quoted by several scholary articles.[19][20][21]

Regardless of the reality, Russia’s annexation of Crimea opened doors to claim Kaliningrad by others.[22][19]

A few months after the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Lithuania started implementing EU sanctions, which blocked about 50% of the goods being imported into Kaliningrad by rail, not including food, medicine, or passenger travel. Russia protested the sanctions and announced it would increase shipments by sea.[23][24]

Support for independence[edit]

Since the early 1990s there has been a proposal for independence of the Kaliningrad Oblast from Russia and the formation of a "fourth Baltic state" by some of the local people. The Baltic Republican Party was founded on 1 December 1993 with the aim of founding an autonomous Baltic Republic.[25]

Support for irredentism[edit]

Inesis Feldmanis, head of the Faculty of History and Philosophy at the University of Latvia, has been quoted saying that the Soviet Union's annexation of Kaliningrad is "an error in history".[5]

The Freistaat Preußen Movement, one of the most active offshoots of the Reichsbürger movement, considers the Russian (and German) government as illegitimate and see themselves as the rightful rulers of the region.[26] As of 2017, the movement is split into two competing factions, one based in Königsfeld, Rhineland-Palatinate and the other in Bonn.[26]

In Lithuania[edit]

Some political groups in Lithuania claim parts of Kaliningrad Oblast between the Pregel and Nemunas rivers (an area known as Lithuania Minor), but they have little influence.[27] Linas Balsys, a deputy in the Lithuanian parliament, has argued that the status of the exclave should be discussed at international levels.[28]

In 1994, the former Lithuanian head of state Vytautas Landsbergis called for the separation and "decolonization" of Kaliningrad from Russia.[29] In December 1997, the Lithuanian parliament member Romualdas Ozolas expressed his view that Kaliningrad should become an independent republic.[30]

After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the political analyst Laurynas Kasčiūnas called for a revisiting of the Potsdam Agreement.[31] He claims that residents of Kaliningrad would support a referendum to separate from Russia.[31] The notion of a Lithuanian claim has been brushed off by Russian media, even the liberal Novaya Gazeta newspaper dismissing it as a "geopolitical fantasy".[32]

In Poland[edit]

More than in the form of Polish irredentism over the Kaliningrad Oblast, a Polish annexation of the region has been more mentioned by Russian media, which has accused the Polish authorities of preparing to incorporate the region. These accusations stemmed from online comments made by readers of an article published on the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza: while the article itself did not mention any Polish alleged annexation desire, the comments suggested that the Kaliningrad Oblast should belong to Poland. Pro-Kremlin media such as Pravda.ru misleadingly reported this as an attempt by the Polish government to annex the region. Stanisław Żaryn, spokeperson for the Polish Minister Coordinator for Special Services, dismissed the allegation as "fake news".[33][34]

German resettlement attempts[edit]

The Amtshagen settlement in 1997

In the 1990s, a far-right group calling itself Gesellschaft für Siedlungsförderung in Trakehnen attempted to establish a settlement in Yasnaya Polyana (Trakehnen in German).[35] Fundraising by the organization Aktion Deutsches Königsberg financed the construction of a German-language school and housing in the neighboring village of Amtshagen.[36] Most of the settlers were Russian Germans from the Caucasus and Kazakhstan, rather than returnees.[37]

Several dilapidated houses were bought and renovated; tractors, trucks, building materials and machinery were imported into the village.[38] The relatively high salaries attracted newcomers,[38] and the ethnic German population rose to about 400 inhabitants.[39] The construction of a second settlement in the outskirts of Trakehnen, named Agnes-Miegel-Siedlung, began in 1998.[36]

Relations with the local Russian administration were initially cordial,[36] but the activities of the group were suppressed by the Russian government after being publicized by German media.[8] Dietmar Munier, the initiator of the project, was banned from traveling to Kaliningrad Oblast.[36] In 2006, he sold his stake in the association to one Alexander Mantai, who turned it into a for-profit concern and evicted the original settlers.[40] The association was liquidated in 2015 for violating the Russian law on NGOs.[41]

In the 1990s, a group affiliated to Manfred Roeder collected donations to build housing for ethnic Germans in the village of Olkhovatka, east of Kaliningrad.[42]

Official positions[edit]

Although negotiations in 2001 were instigated around a possible Russian trade deal with the EU, that would have put the exclave within Germany's economic sphere of influence,[12] the current German government has indicated no interest in recovering Kaliningrad Oblast.[43] The governments of Poland and Lithuania similarly recognize Kaliningrad as part of Russia,[29] as does the European Union.[44] Germany formally waived all territorial claims to the former East Prussia as part of the Two Plus Four Agreement that led to German reunification.[45] In July 2005, the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder declared that "in its heart [the city] will always be called Königsberg", but stated that Germany did not have any territorial claim to it.[46] According to Ulrich Speck, the prospect of returning Kaliningrad to Germany lacks support in Germany, even among fringe nationalist groups.[47] In 2004, the German politician Jürgen Klimke asked the German federal government about its view on the establishment of a Lithuanian-Russian-Polish euroregion, to be named "Prussia". The initiator denied any revanchist connotations to the proposal.[48]

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's claim to Kaliningrad was not contested by any government,[49] though some groups in Lithuania called for the annexation of the province, or parts of it.[30]

Poland has made no claim to Kaliningrad, and is seen as being unlikely to do so, as it was a net beneficiary of the Potsdam Agreement, which also decided the status of Kaliningrad.[27]

In Belarus[edit]

In 2019 Alexander Lukashenko suggested that the Kaliningrad Oblast could become Belarusian in the future and compared it with the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.[50]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Richard, Yann; Sebentsov, Alexander; Zotova, Maria (8 April 2015). "The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Challenges and limits of its integration in the Baltic region". Cybergeo. doi:10.4000/cybergeo.26945. Archived from the original on 1 May 2018.
  2. ^ Harding, Luke (11 April 2007). "Russia threatening new cold war over missile defense". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  3. ^ Michta, Andrew A. (9 December 2016). "Kaliningrad and the Escalatory Spiral in the Baltics". Carnegie Europe. Archived from the original on 30 November 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  4. ^ Krickus 2002, p. 125.
  5. ^ a b Tétrault-Farber, Gabrielle. "If Russia Gets Crimea, Should Germany Get Kaliningrad?" (Archive). The Moscow Times. March 21, 2014.
  6. ^ Waller, Michael; Coppieters, Bruno; Malashenko, Alekseĭ Vsevolodovich (1998). Conflicting Loyalties and the State in Post-Soviet Russia and Eurasia. Psychology Press. p. 80. ISBN 9780714648828. Archived from the original on 2018-05-03.
  7. ^ a b c d Malinkin, Mary Elizabeth (8 February 2016). "Building a Soviet City: the Transformation of Königsberg". Wilson Center. Archived from the original on 7 July 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Berger, Stefan (13 May 2010). "How to be Russian with a Difference? Kaliningrad and its German Past". Geopolitics. 15 (2): 345–366. doi:10.1080/14650040903486967. S2CID 143378878.
  9. ^ Krickus 2002, p. 39.
  10. ^ Balogh, Peter (11 April 2014). "Chapter Five. The Polish-Russian Borderland: From Physical Towards Mental Boundaries?". In Bufon, Milan; Minghi, Julian; Paasi, Anssi (eds.). The New European Frontiers: Social and Spatial (Re)Integration Issues in Multicultural and Border Regions. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 98. ISBN 9781443859363 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Diener, Alexander C.; Hagen, Joshua (2010). "8. Russia's Kaliningrad Exclave: Discontinuity as a Threat to Sovereignty". In Diener, Alexander C.; Hagen, Joshua (eds.). Borderlines and Borderlands: Political Oddities at the Edge of the Nation-State. Lanham, Maryland, United States: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 133. ISBN 9780742568440 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ a b c ""Germany in secret talks with Russia to take back Konigsberg". The Daily Telegraph. 21 January 2001. Archived from the original on 2018-02-06.
  13. ^ Russian Federal State Statistics Service (2011). Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Том 1 [2010 All-Russian Population Census, vol. 1]. Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года [2010 All-Russia Population Census] (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service.
  14. ^ a b Wiegrefe, Klaus (22 May 2010). Müller von Blumencron, Mathias; Mascolo, Georg (eds.). "Zeitgeschichte: Historischer Ballast" [Contemporary History: Historical Ballast]. Der Spiegel (in German). Hamburg, Germany: Spiegel-Berlag. ISSN 2195-1349. Archived from the original on 14 October 2017.
  15. ^ Berger, Stefan (31 July 2010). Rusbridger, Alan (ed.). "Should Kant's home once again be German?". The Guardian. London, England, United Kingdom. ISSN 1756-3224. OCLC 60623878. Archived from the original on 6 February 2021.
  16. ^ Wagner, Rudolf (22 January 2001). "Königsberg für eine Hand voll Euro?" (in German). Spiegel Online. Archived from the original on 11 May 2017. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  17. ^ Karabeshkin, Leonid; Wellmann, Christian (2004). The Russian Domestic Debate on Kaliningrad: Integrity, Identity and Economy. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 20. ISBN 9783825879525. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01.
  18. ^ Bushkov, Dima (28 April 2014). "Fair trade: Kaliningrad for Crimea". The Baltic Times. Retrieved 23 July 2022.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ a b Oldberg, Ingmar (February 2015). "Kaliningrad's difficult plight between Moscow and Europe". UI Paper. Swedish Institute for International Affairs (2).{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  20. ^ Oldberg, Ingmar. "Chapter 16 The Kaliningrad Region: an Exclave with Internal and External Problems". The Kaliningrad Region. doi:10.30965/9783657760626_017. ISBN 9783657760626. S2CID 243740640.
  21. ^ "THE KALININGRAD REGION AS A PROBLEM BETWEEN MOSCOW AND EUROPE". Kaliningrad: its internal and external issues. University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn. 2016. ISBN 978-83-89559-68-5.
  22. ^ "The Invasion of Crimea Is Hurting Russia's Other Exclave". Forbes. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  23. ^ A Russian enclave in Europe is the latest source of Ukraine war tensions
  24. ^ Inside Kaliningrad, Russian exclave at the centre of Ukraine war sanctions row
  25. ^ Goble, Paul (2 August 2017). "Kaliningrad Separatism Again on the Rise". Eurasian Daily Monitor. Archived from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  26. ^ a b "Reichsbürger: Wie eine "Ministerpräsidentin" aus der Eifel die Bundesrepublik bekämpft und einen Weltkrieg riskieren will". Rhein-Zeitung (in German). 16 February 2017. Archived from the original on 25 March 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  27. ^ a b Krickus 2002, p. 82.
  28. ^ "Experts comment on Lithuanian MP's claims regarding Russia's Kaliningrad". TASS (in Russian). 30 January 2017. Archived from the original on 17 March 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  29. ^ a b Kempton, Daniel R.; Clark, Terry D. (2002). Unity Or Separation: Center-periphery Relations in the Former Soviet Union. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 145. ISBN 9780275973063. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01.
  30. ^ a b Vitunic, Brian. "Enclave To Exclave: Kaliningrad Between Russia And The European Union" (PDF). Columbia University. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 June 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  31. ^ a b "Ar Karaliaučiaus statusas turėtų būti peržiūrimas?". Lietuvos Radijas ir Televizija (in Lithuanian). Archived from the original on 1 May 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  32. ^ "С легкой претензией на Калининград". Новая газета (in Russian). 26 September 2014. Archived from the original on 4 May 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  33. ^ "Szokujące doniesienia rosyjskich mediów. Polacy chcieli zaanektować Kaliningrad?". Stefczyk.info (in Polish). 20 March 2020.
  34. ^ ""Ludność zmęczona polskim totalitaryzmem". Rosjanie "proponują przyłączenie"... Suwalszczyzny do Rosji". Tygodnik Solidarność (in Polish). 8 April 2020.
  35. ^ Ihlau, Olaf (15 December 1997). "RusslandDeutsche: "Mich kriegt hier keiner weg"". Der Spiegel. Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  36. ^ a b c d Schwarz, Moritz (17 May 2002). "Es geht nur mit den Russen". Junge Freiheit (in German). Archived from the original on 3 May 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  37. ^ Ihlau, Olaf (24 April 1995). "Rußlanddeutsche: "Da werden Blasen geschlagen"". Der Spiegel. Archived from the original on 11 April 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  38. ^ a b Rogalla, Annette (8 December 1997). "Tumbe Germanen wollen Königsberg". Die Tageszeitung (in German). p. 3. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  39. ^ Strunz, Gunnar (2006). Königsberg entdecken: unterwegs zwischen Memel und Haff (in German). Trescher Verlag. ISBN 9783897940710.
  40. ^ "Fata Morgana im Pferdeland". Moskauer Deutsche Zeitung. 10 February 2011. Archived from the original on 3 May 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  41. ^ "Калининградский суд ликвидировал общественное объединение российских немцев из-за зарубежного финансирования". Interfax-Russia.ru (in Russian). 24 September 2015. Archived from the original on 4 May 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  42. ^ "Extremisten: Hitlerjunge mit Tränensäcken". Der Spiegel. 27 April 1998. Archived from the original on 31 December 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  43. ^ Berger, Stefan (31 July 2010). "Should Kant's home once again be German?". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 6 February 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  44. ^ Kortunov, Sergei (8 February 2005). "Kaliningrad: Gateway to Wider Europe". Russia in Global Affairs. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  45. ^ Birckenbach, Hanne-Margret (2003). The Kaliningrad Challenge: Options and Recommendations. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 287. ISBN 9783825866501. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01.
  46. ^ "Kaliningrad marks key anniversary". BBC News. 3 July 2005. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  47. ^ Speck, Ulrich. "Russia and Germany: The Antipodes in the International System". Carnegie Moscow Center. Archived from the original on 1 May 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  48. ^ "… Russland". Der Tagesspiegel Online (in German). 23 October 2004. Archived from the original on 1 May 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  49. ^ "Deplore it, then ignore it". The Economist. 20 November 2003. Archived from the original on 26 July 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  50. ^ "Łukaszenka: obwód kaliningradzki niczym "białoruski Krym"?". Belsat.eu (in Polish). 25 November 2019.

References[edit]