There were times when the main Russian military power was a ‘cannon fodder’ and quantitative abundance of technique. A famous marshal Zhukov has ordered several times not to be sorry for people. A Soviet military machine really did not feel sorry for people and the quantitative advantage of the ‘live force’ resulted in not only a military victory.
Now Russians understand that it is not possible to defeat the West talking about the power point of view, since they did not have neither the quantitative advantage nor the number of people. Of course, in this situation cyber-attacks, propaganda diversions and false news are turning into a more important war. And intimidation, too. The West was complaining some time ago that the non-forecasted Russia is dangerous to itself; Russians have made an efficient dummy out of its non-forecasted behaviour: you have to be afraid, because we can ‘unfortunately’ make something you are not expecting. The West tends to solve problems in a logical way and with anticipated political gentlemen. Political hooligans, although not the smartest, are getting on your nerves. Gentlemen lose, because they are not able to be so fast in the world full of false news.
The most important thing is they should be feared; in case they are feared, they would make discounts once they make discounts…. The war is not popular in the West, far more unpopular than some military jaunts of Vladimir Putin in Ukraine or against formally homeboys Chechens. Thus, we have Kaliningrad region that Russians are threatening for some time already… and we are very scared. Talks that in case the war starts they would take over so-called Suwalki Gap and that’s the end to us…
Nowadays it is the most militarized administrative unit of Russia. Therefore, we can see a lot of threat. However, is it really so?
Again, there were times when the USSR as if was ‘fighting for peace’, however the struggle was taking place not with weapons. Now Moscow simply implies that it will go to war in case it wants and you would not be able to do anything here – you are too different to be in good terms and in case you finally agree, then it would be too late, then you would reprove and then you would be friends again.
What does Russia need Kaliningrad for and why will Russia not withdraw from there so easily?
Actually, not because it wants to create kind of Hong Kong or Singapore free economic zones. Not for the region to become an example of free and private initiative to the rest of Russia. Not for the reason to create a happy independent Baltic Republic at some time. Kaliningrad region is necessary to achieve two goals” to be the European state and to threaten Europe with its existence, so Europe knew its place.
People say that until the beginning of the 18th century the Duchy of Moscow was not the reality of Europe or other form of the state, it was somewhere in the air – far away. The boundaries of Europe were somewhere at the eastern borders of Sweden or Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
However, in the 18th century Russia established Saint Petersburg, defeated Sweden and occupied the former Livonia, Russia found itself at the coasts of the Baltic Sa and started calling itself officially a European state. It became a part of history and politics of Europe.
Nowadays Russia does not have Livonia, it is moved away from the Baltic Sea almost up to that place where the tsar Peter started its ‘march to Europe’. A ‘window’ of Saint Petersburg was not enough, thus it needed something more. This something more was the Kaliningrad region – a symbol of establishment of Russia at the coast of the Baltic Sea.
After World War II, a region that we, Lithuanians call Lithuania Minor, was a safe military base prepared for fighting against World War III and act as an element of the military machine of the Warsaw Pact. Militarization of an odd ‘no man’s land’ was a quite natural element of the Cold War; nothing else was expected from the region of Germany that used to be rich some time ago.
To tell the truth, now the Warsaw Pact does not exist any longer, the region of Karaliaučius that is called Kaliningrad now is surrounded by the territory of NATO states and the Baltic Sea is becoming an internal lake of the European Union de facto. Its actual military advantage would be probable in case if NATO decided not to protect Lithuania, Poland or Denmark. All threatening plans in its logic are as if Russia is the biggest and only country that dictate conditions of the geopolitical game.
The Baltic States are vulnerable, however Karaliaučius is more vulnerable. In case the war breaks out, not a political but physical or topographic map become more important for both sides. The War of Russia against Poland or Lithuania would end with the victory of Russia, however it is more probable that Russia would fight against the alliance and the force of the Karaliaučius fortress would not be enough; in case of war it is most probable that it should be defended rather than serving as a place for attacks. To Russia it is a quite expensive pleasure. We have some information that the technical condition is terrible, and majority of the military equipment reminds more of monuments rather than military machines. A relic of disarmament is less renewal, and everything is because of saving, that’s the reality.
Simply a propaganda machine of Russia tells again and again that the Western alliance would simply have no time to react in a flexible and fast manner. NATO is powerful when it acts in unison, however in this case it might lack understanding.
Some acts of bluff of Russia were successful. “Good will” to cooperate with NATO that have lasted for over two decades resulted in significant reduction of the defence budget by countries of NATO and Russia has done something finally. Actually, it has done not much, because it did not manage to do more because of its problems, but not because of NATO defence and deterrence.
After Georgia and Ukraine Russia does not need to win a map that changes a war. Nowadays it is important to participate in the chaos of the information war, where the West usually is defeated just because they tend to believe in what is said but not in actual things. The information defence of the West is not only poor and naïve, the fifth column is acting in the Western countries in a legal way and usually are funded by these states.
How successful are we in this information war?
On average. Harmful stereotypes have been pushed on us acting in favour of Vladimir Putin. Among them: Russia is and has always been big and powerful – we cannot choose neighbours; we cannot be protected from Russia. Russia is dictating conditions over Europe. We are culturally inseparable from Russia; the government of Russia is strong and fair; social order exists in Russia that is based on a strong and fair ‘hand’…
It would be more fair if Russia seemed like a state that is losing its positions – “Duchy of Moscow” has been ruled in a non-democratic way by violating principal human rights, Russia is an aggressive unfair state, it should be “stopped” – it is better to defend rather than make discounts. The cultural heritage of Russia is provincial, peripheral…
We have something to tell our colleagues in the Western and Euro-Atlantic Community.
In its thinking Brussels has rooted dogmas, which still enable Russians to fell more comfortably. I would single out several that have to be expressly named and… destroyed.
Indulgence in Russia is better than integrity. There are no evidences that these countries that were indulged in Russia and were sacrificing themselves for its whims, won something. In most cases they remained more dependent on Russia than before.
Indulgence in the West is a formula – ‘a business for concessions for human rights’, is a useful formula. No facts can prove that indulgence brought economic benefit – it brought just dependence.
Brussels knows better. Countries of the Central Europe reached the main victories when they followed their own head but not suggestions of Brussels. The ‘old’ democracies of the Western Europe need not to ‘recharge’ their relations with Moscow but settle relations with the Central Europe.
Lithuania is free from threats and once it has some threats, then we are helpless – we will not manage to defend ourselves and the national defence budget is too low. We have to convince the presidency, ministries and Seimas that these priorities are of vital concern (more important than benefits and pensions). At the end of the World War II the possibilities of defence were much worse than in 1940, however we defended ourselves. We did not give up in 1991, either. For that reason, now we are a state of Europe.
Political priorities were turned into business priorities. By becoming the object of trade Lithuania actually is becoming smaller. Let’s not forget – we restored independence and created our own country when values but not pragmatism were prevailing.
Will we defend Suwalki Gap? Of course, but not because of geography. Because of values.