NEW TARGET FOR RUSSIA: THE SUWALKI GAP
If you look at the map of Eastern Europe, you will start wondering what the Kalingrad Oblast region is all about. Remember that Germany was forced to give up Kaliningrad to Stalin at the 1945 Potsdam Agreement. This land used to be German Konigsberg. It is situated between Lithuania on the East and Poland in the West. With the new economic sanctions, the Kaliningrad enclave is almost totally cut off from the rest of Europe with no land link with Russia. Now look just east of Kalingrad and you see a 100 km border between Poland and Lithuania which is called the Suwalki Gap (named after the town of Suwalki). It is a narrow piece of land between Kalingrad and Belarus.
The Kalingrad enclave became separated from Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 with the emergence of the new independent countries of Lithuania and Belarus (a Russian satellite country). The Suwalki Gap is a major military problem for NATO. It is the only land passage for supplies to the Baltic countries from Poland and the West. Furthermore, Kalingrad is a major Russian port with thousands of Russian troops, advanced fighter jets and nuclear weapons. A Russian move to seize control of the Suwalki corridor would be a major threat to the Baltic countries.
NATO knows that this is their weakest link. Putin knows this and will try to exploit this weakness over the next few months. How will this go down? Remember how Russia took control of Crimea. Russian tanks will sweep across the Suwalki corridor from Kalingrad and from Belarus simultaneously, and within days the Baltic countries will be cut off from the rest of NATO. This is the nightmare scenario for the West.
To justify this kind of action, nothing could be simpler. Putin will say that Lithuanian Nazis are terrorizing the Russian-speaking population in Lithuania. The Russian troops can go through Lithuania and avoid Polish territory entirely. Russians are the second-largest ethnic minority (5%) in the country after Poles and they often feel discriminated against when speaking Lithuanian. There are even more ethnic Russians in Estonia (26%) and Latvia (25%). So the first step of the Russian propaganda machine will be to say that their troops are protecting the Russian-speaking areas of Lithuania by seizing the southern tip of Lithuania. Putin's next step would be to seize a slice of Estonian and Latvian land in the East.
When will this happen? I have been looking into my crystal ball and I hereby announce that the attack will happen this year just before the US midterm elections and the World Cup. It will be a huge setback for President Biden who has promised not to go to war with Russia, and to NATO who will be facing a fait accompli. Biden and NATO will do nothing. They fear war with Russia more than Russia fears war with them. They will talk about sanctions and on it will go. The attack on Lithuania will be mounted in complete secrecy. Russian soldiers are already in Belarus. They would be easy to divert from Ukraine to the northern border area. The troops in Kalingrad could be operational within hours. The whole operation would be complete in just a few days.
From a military point of view, it makes absolutely no sense in leaving Kalingrad in Russian hands. I think NATO, Lithuania or Poland should immediately launch a secret attack against Kalingrad and its port. It could be done by sending in soldiers dressed in Ukrainian uniforms with the flag on display. Zelensky could do a press conference about his Ukrainian soldiers attacking Kalingrad. This would send a very strong message to Putin. There are one million people living there who are completely cut off from Russia and these people would benefit immensely from a land link to Poland and the west.
*Originally posted in April 2022