Why Russia is strengthening the ‘military fist’ in Kaliningrad?
This post was published in Vzglyad. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.
MOSCOW, (BM) – A year later, the Russian Ministry of Defence will form a new modernized rifle division in the Kaliningrad region, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing online media Vzglyad. The new group, military analysts believe, will be enough to nullify the threat of a NATO attack on our enclave. What methods will the West have for armed provocations around Kaliningrad? What are the chances of the notorious fifth column forming in the city?
Next year, a motorized rifle division will appear in the Kaliningrad region as part of the 11th Army Corps (AK) of the Baltic Fleet’s coastal and ground forces deployed in the area. According to a TASS source in the regional security forces, the new formation will include separate motorized rifle and tank regiments and a separate motorized rifle brigade, previously subordinate directly to the 11th Army Corps’ headquarters.
“The new division will receive a full set of combat support units, including an artillery regiment,” the source promised. According to the staffing table adopted in the Armed Forces, the motorized rifle division personnel reaches 12 thousand people.
The strengthening of the Russian grouping in the Kaliningrad region has been proceeding at a rapid pace lately. In February last year, it became known about plans to recreate a full-fledged air division, including dozens of aircraft of various types. A month ago, according to Izvestia, the local units began to be equipped with one of the most potent Russian tanks, the T-72B3M. Thirty cars have already arrived. The update, which will complete in a year, will affect the motorized rifle regiment’s tank battalions and a separate brigade, which are part of the 11th Army Corps.
Meanwhile, NATO countries are building up their forces around the enclave. Kaliningrad’s grave threat can pose by the Polish army, which numbers about 100 thousand people. Warsaw is rapidly increasing its military spending, bringing it closer to $ 12 billion a year. An even more severe threat in the event of a conflict could be the German army, which once owned Kaliningrad. The Bundeswehr has a strength of over 180,000 and a military budget of $ 55 billion.
At the end of November in Lithuania, 252 km from Kaliningrad, NATO maneuvers “Iron Wolf II 2020” took place. In addition to the Balts, the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) grouping in Central Europe also participated. Konstantin Sivkov, vice-president of the Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences, recalled that four EFP bases in the Baltic are under the patronage of the so-called leading Western country. So, Germany is patronizing Rukla, Canada is patronizing Adazi, and in the Polish city of Ozhisch, the chiefs are Americans.
“In this town, located 136 km from Kaliningrad, there is a consolidated contingent from the US Army’s combined arms battalion, a group of elite Scottish dragoons from Great Britain, an artillery battery from Croatia, and a unit from Romania. NATO members are based on a mechanized brigade of the Polish army, in operational management to Germany’s American contingent. The Polish military plays a supporting role in this formation. In Soviet times, tanker Viktor Murakhovsky served near Kaliningrad – now a member of the expert council of the board of the Military-Industrial Commission of the Russian Federation, editor-in-chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine, a reserve colonel. He recalls that USSR deployed an entire army in the region since the Soviet General Staff considered the enclave a priority target for NATO. In the 90s, this powerful group went “under the knife,” the expert complains.
“But now what is already in the Kaliningrad region is enough for so-called containment,” says Murakhovsky. “That is enough to dispel the West’s illusion that it is possible today to conduct some quick offensive operation that could lead to our loss of the Kaliningrad region.” The number of NATO troops surrounding the area is not enough to attack, he said. “If we talk about the creation of an offensive grouping, then it will be impossible to hide its creation. The forces that are now deployed, for example, in Lithuania, represent only a battalion tactical group,” Murakhovsky told VZGLYAD newspaper.
The NATO grouping in neighboring Poland is larger, the expert admitted; moreover, an American brigade is on a rotational basis. In the future, the Pentagon is going to deploy its division headquarters there. “Because of that, our group is strengthening to exclude a sudden strike by cash forces,” the expert explained.
But an attack begins, then, in this case, reflected not only by the troops stationed in the enclave but also by “all the powerful armed forces “of Russia, recalls Murakhovsky. If Kaliningrad’s troops need help, it is necessary to break through to them from Belarus through the famous Suwalki corridor. As the colonel explained:
“The task of the forces of the region will only be to maintain their positions until the remaining forces of the Russian Federation deployed.”
The NATO countries claim that nuclear weapons are deploying in the Kaliningrad region. Reuters launched this version back in 2018. Military analysts also propose moving atomic weapons closer to Kaliningrad as one of the first steps to counter the “Russian threat”. The American NI magazine wrote about this that “the US nuclear forces should be deployed in Poland as a trump card to force the Russians to withdraw their nuclear weapons from Kaliningrad.”
“The next administration must continue and strengthen President Trump’s strategy to increase military support for our NATO allies on the eastern flank of the alliance,” the publication demands. The West fears that the Iskander missiles transferred to the enclave equipped with nuclear warheads. In the event of a possible global war, Russia will use them to deliver a nuclear strike.
“Although French President Emmanuel Macron stated that NATO was brain dead, there is hope. NATO still has the brains not to go to war against Russia,” says Yuri Melkonov, editor-in-chief of the military history magazine BALTFORT, who lives in Latvia. “However, NATO leaders will continue to scare the whole of Europe, showing Moscow their military muscles. Since 2014, there has been a demonstration, or rather, an imitation of aggressive intentions, which is justified because Russia is about to annex the Baltic states, as happened with Crimea.”
“So the deployment of a new motorized rifle division at the Baltic Fleet base in Kaliningrad is Russia’s expected response to NATO’s actions in the Baltic,” Melkonov said. Directly attacking the Baltic exclave is like shooting the rest of Russia, said Nikolai Mezhevich, professor at the Department of International Relations at St. Petersburg State University.
A powerful Russian missile weapon is stationed in the region, capable of, in theory, washing neighboring territories into the sea without a trace, even without the use of nuclear weapons. In the event of a global military conflict, it is impossible to predict the future. However, NATO forces stationed near Kaliningrad can theoretically carry out targeted provocations against the enclave. Mezhevich believes: for example, to get the Russian military to open fire across the border at least once. The opened fire can be declared an incident – evidence of Russia’s aggression in the Baltic region.
To prepare such provocations, the political scientist does not rule out. The authorities of the NATO countries may try to create a fifth column within the Kaliningrad region itself. Mezhevich recalled that until recently, the neo-Nazi group Baltic Avant-Garde of Russian Resistance (BARS) operated in the area, calling for Konigsberg’s name to the city, for the region to secede from Russia and join the European Union.
“Asset BARS is now behind bars. But such groups and individuals remain in Kaliningrad; there are a lot of them,” Mezhevich warns.
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