EU energy plan puts Kaliningrad at risk, Moscow paper says

Kaliningrad oblast government press sevice. The large electronic display says: "Meeting about Implementation of a Comprehensive Development Program of Electric Power Grid in the Territory of Kaliningrad Oblast for 2014-2022"

The large electronic display says: "Meeting about Implementation of a Comprehensive Development Program of Electric Power Grid in the Territory of Kaliningrad Oblast for 2014-2022." Photo of Kaliningrad oblast government press service.  

2015/04/20 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Gas pipeline issues have attracted far more attention, but a plan for a unified energy network among European Union members appears likely to have serious consequences for Kaliningrad, the non-contiguous Russian exclave that is bordered by Poland and Lithuania, both of whom are EU members, according to “Nezavisimaya gazeta.”

In a lead article today, the Moscow paper’s editors say that the EU plans “threaten not only to block the supply of Russian gas to Europe but to isolate in terms of energy the Russian exclave in the EU of Kaliningrad oblast” by breaking apart the electric grid between Russia and the EU at its borders.

“The unification of the electric grids of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia with the European one and, as a result, the exclusion of Kaliningrad oblast from the Baltic energy system can lead to a lack of electricity in this strategic section of Russian territory,” the editors say. At the very least, that risk will heighten tensions between Moscow and Brussels.

Until now, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have been part of the BRELL energy network which includes Belarus and Russia as well. (Intriguingly, this is a rare case when Moscow has followed the English alphabet order rather than the Russian one in listing the Baltic countries.) Now, the three, moving toward Europe, are breaking ties with Russia and Belarus as well.

The Moscow paper places the blame for this move on Latvia which since January has been head of the Council of Europe and has pushed for a variety of measures to reduce its own dependence on Russia and the dependence of its neighbors as well.

Kaliningrad oblast exclave in Russia (Image: wikipedia.org)

Kaliningrad oblast exclave in Russia (marked red). Image: wikipedia.org

But if this EU plan is implemented, Kaliningrad will be cut off and suffer serious power shortages, something that will hit its naval port there and thus “inflict harm on the security of the Russian state,” the editors of “Nezavisimaya gazeta” say. Moscow officials are clearly concerned about how to respond.

Last week, Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said that “the problem of energy supplies for Kaliningrad oblast will be solved by the end of this year,” primarily by sending more gas to the exclave and building new generating capacity there. Although he did not allude to it, the paper said Moscow may restart construction of the Baltic Atomic Power Plant in Kaliningrad.

The Russian authorities have a certain amount of time to take these steps, the paper says, noting that the difficulties of setting up this EU grid mean that it will not be fully operational until at least 2020 and possibly not until 2025. To achieve “energy independence” for Kaliningrad will be a very expensive proposition, the paper said.

The prospect that Kaliningrad may face serious power shortages in the future is likely to energize those in the oblast who would like to see it as an independent “fourth Baltic republic” or at least linked to the EU as a Euro-region of some kind. And that in turn means that the exclave is likely to be the site of more demonstrations in favor of such outcomes.

They are already happening. “Nezavisimaya gazetareports today that persons unknown put up banners in Lithuanian at border crossing points in Kaliningrad reading “Welcome to Karaliavicius [the Lithuanian variant of “Koenigsberg]!”

Unknown persons put up banners in Lithuanian at border crossing points in Kaliningrad reading “Welcome to Karaliavicius [the Lithuanian variant of “Koenigsberg]!” (Image: ng.ru)

Unknown persons put up banners in Lithuanian at border crossing points in Kaliningrad reading “Welcome to Karaliavicius [the Lithuanian variant of “Koenigsberg]!” (Image: ng.ru)

The exclave’s police are looking for the perpetrators, but few find it easy to believe that local Lithuanians did this. They number 10,000, fewer than one percent of Kaliningrad oblast’s population, and “have not displayed any signs of political activity” during the post-Soviet period, the paper says.

But it notes that “the return of Crimea to Russia has called forth calls to ‘deal with Kaliningrad oblast’ not only from the ultra-nationalists of the Young Lithuania Party but also from the right-of-center parliamentary opposition.” And calls for the return of this region have been discussed on social networks.

The notion of changing borders in the Baltic region has also surfaced in the past among some Russian activists in Kaliningrad and elsewhere who would like to see Kaliningrad’s boundaries be expanded to where they were before 1923 and include Memel, as the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda was then known.

But some bloggers in Kaliningrad think that all this is not about Kaliningrad but rather a Russian provocation designed as the opening shot in a Russian “campaign for the struggle with ‘the Lithuanian threat.” At the very least, that is a real possibility and should be considered in terms of Moscow’s active measures against the three Baltic states.

Map of Kaliningrad Oblast. Image: wikipedia.org

Map of Kaliningrad Oblast. Image: wikipedia.org

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Terence Patrick Mac Dougall

    Lets being Koenigsberg into the EU and NATO

    • Racquel

      Yes. How fitting. It would be awesome to see protests and a sea of Germany’s black-red-gold, but, sadly, Germany wouldn’t support them.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        Agreed, return Königsberg to Germany. If the Crimea is “Historically Russian” as Putin claims, then Königsberg is historically German. Germany’s historical claim on Königsberg is far more solid than Russia’s claim on the Crimea. The Turks have far more right to the Crimea than Russia.

  • Murf

    Tell me sucks (Or is it sorry or both? Sucks the sorry?) what does it feel like to have every think you see touch and feel worth half as much in less then six months?
    Hope your barren peninsula is worth it.

    • Wonfu

      “Welcome to Karaliavicius”

      Wait 4 it…………………………

      HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !

      Königsberg Über_Alles

      Sorry Sucker aka Boris but Europe has had enough of Stalinke and his mongrel puppets.

      East Prussia ~ From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia.

      It was stolen from Germany in 1946 by Stalinke mongrel dogs now parading about the internets as lap dogs to kremlin propaganda no longer able to feed their families on the pittance doled out by Stalinke and his oligarchs.

      http://canitz.org/images/kb-city-centre-pre-ww2.png

      When the lights go out don’t let the door hit you in the azz Sorry Sucker aka Boris. lol

    • Wonfu

      USA über alles, über alles in der Welt !

      Oh Sorry Sucker aka Boris………. lol

      Your mommie is calling… time for a nappy after a nip of vodka and a change of diapers. heh heh

      • Murf

        He could join the NEW western trained Ukraine Army and kick the ever loving shit out of Russian pukes like you.

    • Murf

      Russia’s exports shrank by 30% last year according your PM.
      In the first quarter on this year the economy has contracted 2% already. The world bank first estimated Russia’s economy would shrink by 3.5% now it’s up to 4.5%. I think Russia will be lucky if it is only 5%.
      Speaking of which the Ruble fell 5% An is runningat 54 to the Dollar
      Even if oil goes back up to 70 DPB that will not change the fact that Russian businesses have foreign loans that have to be paid and and no access to lower interest Western loans. So they will have to pay the 17% Russian rate.(which in the West is know as Loan Sharking.

      According Jane’s they anticipate large scale fighting will resume after the May 9th “Fascist on Parade” celebration.So the sanctions will only get worse.

      I think you should worry FAR more about Russia and less about Ukraine.

      Russia should just make a deal with Ukraine and give up.

      • Wonfu

        Such a deal should include returning Crimea to Ukraine and russian navy to relocate to a home port like Novorossiysk.

  • Murf

    The USSRs seizure and ethnic cleansing of Koenigsberg was illegal and immoral. The West should refuse to recognize it’s existence as a part of Russia.

  • Murf

    The Russian headline SHOULD read;”Due to Putin’s belligerence, Kalingrad energy at risk.”

  • Wonfu

    Unfortunately Sorry Sucker does not understand the concept of “freedom of speech”.

    If a member of the russian legislation were to say such things about mother russia they would disappear or be shot on the street by some paid minion of the dwarf in the kremlin Stalinke.

    Bet Sorry Sucker aka Boris would like to live in a country where freedom of speech would allow him to have an original thought. lol

    • Wonfu

      Ukrainian soldiers learning from the US military

      Joint US-Ukrainian military maneuvers have begun in Western Ukraine.

      Be afraid Sorry Sucker aka Boris the kremlin midget’s minion, be VERY VERY afraid.

      Long live Nuland and Ukrainian independence!