‘Since Kaliningrad Oblast is geographically separated from Russia, its situation is complex and completely different from other regions. Especially now [that the ferry connection is responsible for supplying the region] it becomes clear that Kaliningrad will be completely dependent on Saint Petersburg.’
Lithuanian IQ magazine interviewed me about the state of affairs in Kaliningrad Oblast. The title – A military place and nothing more (Karinis miestelis ir nieko daugiau) – is somewhat provocative but gives a good feeling of what the region has become in the last decade.
In Casimir Pulaski Foundation’s latest policy paper, I argue that Kaliningrad Oblast faces the biggest challenges ever since the disintegration of the Soviet Union and that these challenges are impossible to overcome under the current circumstances.
It happened so not only because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but also because of the events that had led up to it: growing centralisation, ignoring the semi-exclave’s natural needs related to trade and cross-border cooperation, as well as its militarisation.
The Oblast and its inhabitants is have been cut off from main sources of economic growth. Russia will not be able to provide effective and efficient supply lines to make up for it as the Kremlin has different priorities.
As a result, Kaliningrad Oblast has become a besieged fortress that is drifting further away both from Moscow and the West. In the eyes of Russian authorities, it only exists to threaten.
I recently travelled to Brussels as a co-leader of a study tour dedicated to colonialism and racial studies. Although this topic seems far away from issues related to Central and Eastern Europe, I discovered many similarities between, say, the colonial legacy of Congo and Ukraine, Belarus or Poland.
The trip inspired me to write an essay for New Eastern Europe. In it, I argue that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has provided the region with an opportune moment to examine its own deep-rooted legacies of colonialism. Subjected to outside rule in various forms over the past two centuries, the region could now finally grasp the chance to overcome this trauma and truly claim its “subjectivity” on the international stage.