My original intention this week was to talk about the Domesday book and how William the Conqueror surveyed much of England and parts of Wales back to 1085. What an incredible document from Norman times and what a huge influence it had. Unfortunately, my attention this week got off track with the developing story about Kaliningrad.
In my April 9 blog, I mentioned that Kaliningrad and the Suwalki Gap were going to be the next theatre of war in Europe. I mentioned an attack before the US midterms in November. There are more and more reasons to believe this. The Russians are talking about a blockade of Kaliningrad by the Lithuanians who are simply applying the EU sanctions on Russia. They don't allow certain items to travel through Lithuania by train to the Kaliningrad enclave. In addition, this week Putin announced that he is sending Iskander-M nuclear-capable missiles to his neighbour Belarus. Is this to threaten Ukraine or could it be a threat to Lithuania? Where is all this going to lead to?
Clearly, Putin and the Russian military are planning something. Will the blockade of Kaliningrad provide him with sufficient justification to attack Lithuania? The capital Vilnius is just 35 kilometres from the Russian border and 185 kilometres from Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Russia with the help of Belarus can seize Lithuania in less than 48 hours by attacking Vilnius from the East and joining up with Russian soldiers in Kaliningrad in the West. Lithuania will be a walk in the park for Russian soldiers. They don't have the military experience of the Ukrainians after eight years of war.
Who will stop the Russians? Nobody. NATO is an empty shell full of talking heads and no action. The last time NATO launched a significant military operation was the air bombing campaign in Kosovo/Serbia. They certainly don't know how to coordinate multinational military forces in a WW2 style campaign. It's all empty talk at NATO. Of course, no one in the EU believes war will actually happen. The only exception in Europe is Boris Johnson and the UK. Putin knows this. He knows that NATO is weak and so he will grab Lithuania whenever he wants and then go after Estonia and Latvia.
How will he do it? Remember those unidentified green men in Crimea. They were Russian Spetsnaz forces and they took the country without firing a shot. They seize territory and then claim it was all justified. It will be a fait accompli by the time NATO wakes up. Putin will say that Lithuanian Nazis are terrorizing the Russian-speaking population in Lithuania (5% of the population) and operating a blockade of Kaliningrad.
The time to strike for NATO is now before the Russians get their act together. Seize Kaliningrad and its port. Cut them off entirely from the land. Send in Polish or Lithuanian green men to seize the enclave and then pressure the Russians to leave their Baltic port. Putin would be totally enraged by such an action, but he would immediately understand that NATO was no longer a joke and would stop bullying his neighbours. Putin understands force, that's all he understands.
Of course, it is highly unlikely that NATO will do anything since there is absolutely no will in Europe or in the US for a war with Russia. And the response of the immensely rich democracies of France and Germany will be to let Putin have those Baltic countries if war can be avoided. So Lithuania will become another casualty of Russian aggression and will be conveniently ignored.
*Originally posted in June 2022