Fragile Places

Border between Kaliningrad Oblast (Russia)
and Poland (NATO) in 2019
Yes! Grateful for a 5 star review from CM Review (Canadian Materials). Hope this will encourage readers to pick up a copy
of both Tainted Amber and Crow Stone. Understanding history helps us to understand the present global conflicts. 

I’ve blogged a lot about East Prussia, the eastern-most province of the former Third Reich that became Russia’s most western enclave. At about 15000 square kilometers, it’s a third of the size of Prince Edward Island. For more than seven decades it’s been not much more than a ghost town … de-populated of Germans, re-populated by transplanted Russians (a man from Kazakhstan lived in my uncle’s former house) and dotted with the ruins of war.  Today, as Putin rages about how German tanks are again confronting Russian ones, this area is a stark reminder that the conflicts of the past are not resolved.

Baltic Sunset near the Lithuanian/Russian border
Pillau—on the Vistula Lagoon—was once the desired Baltic port of refuge for civilian refugees like my mom. The Russians renamed it Baltiysk.  

As a Russian naval base, it’s in a restricted zone and shares (along with the capital city of Kaliningrad) the only year-round ice-free port on the Baltic available to the Russian military. Even when cycling near Baltiysk, along the beautiful, sandy Amber Coast, we could feel the ground rumbling and hear the dull explosions from military exercises.

Kaliningrad Oblast is surrounded by NATO countries… Lithuania to the north and Poland to the south and east. However, there’s a 65- kilometer-long border near the Polish town of Suwalki that makes the Baltic countries’ vulnerable. This short border is all that separates the three NATO countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from Belarus, Russia’s ally. I expect that we’ll hear more of these three places: Baltiysk, the Suwalki Gap, and Grodno (the closest Belarusian city) in the coming months. Will Kaliningrad/East Prussia ever heal?

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