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How Kaliningrad Blockade Could Spark Escalation of Russia-Ukraine War

A partial blockade of a Russian exclave ensconced between Lithuania and Poland along the Baltic coast could cause a dramatic escalation in the Ukraine war.

The Kaliningrad region is sandwiched between the two NATO member countries, and it has been Russian territory since the end of World War II in 1945. Its eponymous capital was formerly one of East Germany’s main cities before it was captured by then-Soviet Union in April 1945, with the Potsdam Agreement later that year placing it under Soviet administration. The region, which is armed with nuclear-capable missiles, has about one million residents.

The exclave could spiral into a new flashpoint of the war in Ukraine, as the Kremlin has warned Lithuania of “serious consequences” for its application of European Union sanctions on certain products, including Russian coal, iron, oil, and steel. However, the Baltic state has vowed to stick with the blockade, which is part of the EU’s sanctions response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The conflict is dragging into its fifth month and has seen thousands die and millions displaced in a European refugee crisis.

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