Forgotten World (109): Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad by the Baltic Sea is one of the strangest territories in Europe. The region was part of Germany until annexation by the USSR following World War II when it saw bitter fighting and suffered rampant destruction. The German population was expelled or fled after the war ended. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, this Russian enclave now has no territorial connection with its mother land, since it is sandwiched between Poland to the south and Lithuania to the north and east, both of which are now in the European Union.
Some 430,000 people – 80% of them ethnic Russians – live there. Kaliningrad is still of great strategic importance to Russia since it houses the Russian Baltic Fleet at the port of Baltiysk and this is the country’s only European ice-free port. Russia keeps a wary eye on developments. Moscow is particularly sensitive about calls from within the region for a referendum on whether to seek greater autonomy within Russia with a view to seeking to strengthen ties with the countries of the European Union.