Tuesday, August 5, 2014


An unarmed American aircraft, flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea last month, was intercepted by Russian fighter jets based in the Kaliningrad enclave, forcing the aircraft commander to divert to Swedish national airspace. this incident illustrates the level of elevated risk that will continue so long as Russia holds territory, deep in the heart of Europe, that it administers under an agreement that arose out of the Second World War, but which did not contemplate a permanent Russian occupation. The northern half of the former German province of East Prussia was never intended to be part of Russia.

This enclave, which is far removed from Russia proper, has become a massive military base, an anachronism from 1945, that should not exist in 2014. Both Poland and Latvia should equitably share what is correctly known as Konigsberg, not the artificial, given name of Kaliningrad. The southern half of East Prussia became part of Poland after World War II. Both NATO countries can point to historical and ethnic ties to the territory; clearly, Russia should withdraw, lest the increasing tensions between it and the West descend into armed conflict, which probably would start with incidents between Russian forces, based in Kaliningrad, and NATO forces.

It is high time to right unfinished business from what was to be a temporary solution, in the immediate post-war definition of the borders of a defeated Germany, and to move the conquering power, Russia, out of territory that was never ethnically Russian, back to the Europeans who have historical, linguistic, and ethnic claims to it. At the same time, it would lower Regional Risk and Country Risk in the area; reducing the risk of war is paramount, in a time where Russian efforts to dominate Eastern Europe once again could spark small armed conflicts, causing serious damage to the economies of NATO countries in the region, and restarting the Cold War.

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