Experts: Russia is currently not strong enough to bridge the ‘Suwalki gap’ | New

Major General Veiko-Vello Palm of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) pointed out that any blockade of the three Baltic states is based on the assumption that NATO could be cut in two, politically, via rapid military maneuver through the 100 km. gap, on the Polish-Lithuanian border (Suwalki is a Polish city while there is also an adjacent region of Suvalkija on the Lithuanian side of the border – editor’s note).

Part of the assumption of how easily Russian forces could do this is based on the perennial rhetorical question “Who would die for city X”, in this case not even anywhere with a name.

Palm said: “Who wants to die for a nameless village in Lithuania? NATO is The Russian Federation cannot remain dependent [on political division].”

This does not mean that the Suwalki Corridor is no longer one of NATO’s weakest points, just that Russia is too weak to exploit it as well.

“That’s not to say they don’t learn fast,” Palm continued.

“The Russian Federation and before that the Soviet Union learned quite quickly from their military defeats. The Second World War also demonstrated that within a few years they were able to coordinate the cooperation of millions of people. So it will only be in no way pays off from a long-term perspective to underestimate Russia,” he added.

The head of the NATO and EU department of the Ministry of Defense, Madis Roll, confirmed to the ERR that the corridor remains an Achilles heel, while in the meantime Russia will be able to compensate for its military losses suffered in Ukraine since February 24 within two to three years.

Roll said: “It is true that the Suwalki Corridor is NATO’s weakest point. Its geography will not change and it is still the most realistic place to attack NATO and the Baltic States. This is the reason for the American decision to place its headquarters corps and an additional brigade in Poland.

Nevertheless, the necessary coordination among the various Russian forces to do so has been lacking so far in the Ukrainian conflict, Maj. Gen. Palm noted, adding that while he agreed with the ministry’s assessment, he thought that it was likely that Russia would need more time to stock up on precision weapons such as cruise missiles than the two to three years the ministry had estimated.

All of this has the effect of making Russia more defensive when it comes to Kaliningrad, sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland and formerly the Prussian city of Köningsberg and its hinterland, which could tempt the Russian Federation to build a kind of impregnable fortress, in military and technical terms, he added, which would mean at least that the Russian Baltic Fleet, based in Kaliningrad, would focus mainly on these actions rather than on actions in the wider Baltic Sea region.

Tomas Jermalavičius, a researcher at the Center for International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) noted that: “Despite the fact that the Baltic Sea will become an internal sea for NATO [following Finnish and Swedish accession to the alliance], Russia can still access the sea from Kaliningrad and from St. Petersburg. The Russian Baltic Fleet is still the largest of all the fleets in the Baltic Sea, which means the Russians are still capable of posing a maritime threat as well.”

However, far from dividing the NATO alliance, developments have led to the separation of Kaliningrad from the rest of the Russian “continent”, since the three Baltic States are accessible by sea and air, especially after the accession of Finland and Sweden.

The Suwalki Gap, or Suwalki Corridor, is about 100 km long and stretches from the trinational border of Russia (via the Kalinigrad exclave), Poland and Lithuania in a southeasterly direction to another tri-state border, this time between Lithuania, Poland and Belarus. Since the latter is in effect a client state of the Russian Federation, the breach is the only land link between Lithuania, and therefore Latvia and Estonia as well, and the rest of NATO to mainland Europe. .

The Potsdam Agreement of August 1945 handed over Königsberg, badly damaged by an air raid by RAF Bomber Command the previous year and also in fighting in the later stages of the war as the Red Army approached , to the Soviet Union, that is, it and the surrounding region. was ethnically “cleansed” of German speakers. It was renamed Kalinigrad after the rather obnoxious Mikhail Kalinin, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union until his death the following March.

The Soviet Union also handed over the Memel region (now Klaipeda, Lithuania) and Vilnius itself to the Lithuanian SSR – Memel was a German city, Vilnius (Wilno) had been under Polish rule between the wars. This made Lithuania the only one of the three Baltic states to have made territorial gains as a result of the Soviet occupation – Latvia and Estonia both lost territory.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kaliningrad, apart from the fact that it was almost entirely populated by Russian speakers anyway, remained part of the Russian Federation following a treaty signed with newly reunified Germany the previous September.

Unlike Leningrad, which again became Saint Petersburg (city – the surrounding oblast, although administratively separate from the city, is still called Leningrad), Kaliningrad retained its Soviet name and remained a highly militarized area. Flights to and from the oblast often resulted in calls for NATO jets years before the current invasion, as Russian planes flew very close to the airspace of the Baltic states and sometimes in it. this.

Follow the news of the ERR on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Comments are closed.