It is no coincidence that the Kaliningrad region has recently increasingly appeared in all sorts of plans and scenarios for the beginning of hostilities in Europe. This Russian enclave on the shores of the Baltic Sea, bordering Poland and Lithuania, is like a bone in the throat of NATO, whose members are concerned neighbors. According to Warsaw and Vilnius, Russia is by definition a source of constant danger in the region and can’t wait to be attacked. Despite the fact that Moscow has never expressed aggressive intentions, moreover, repeatedly declared its peace-loving, under these “threats” to its western borders, pulled quite large forces of the alliance, primarily American troops. And when the concentration of tanks of the U.S. Army reached here, primarily in Poland, a certain number, there were other plans for their use. For example, as now, to capture the Kaliningrad region.
The popular proverb says: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” And when the U.S. called “the way of capturing” Kaliningrad by NATO troops in late October, it caused some irony. It must be assumed that the headquarters of any large army in the world are working out all sorts of plans in case of combat, well, just in case, just in case, hardly anything. And here, that the Pentagon, that the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces in some ways similar – generals like to fight, even on the cards, while Russian colleagues, unlike American “hawks”, do not voice their plans. As in Syria, for example, they first moved troops to Hmeimim and only then reported it. General Jeffrey Lee Harrigian, commander of the U.S. Air Force in Europe, said in late September this year that the U.S. has a plan to break through Russian air defenses. “If we have to go there and destroy, for example, the integrated air defense system of Kaliningrad, let’s have no doubt, we have a plan,” he told Breaking Defense. According to him, the necessary maneuvers are being worked out, and the U.S. is constantly considering these plans and, if necessary, will put them into action. Another “general-talker,” U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein said in March that the U.S. military was preparing a new concept of warfare, the essence of which is to infiltrate enemy territory. “Your defense in the holes is like Swiss cheese, we know these holes, we can use them, we can penetrate them and keep objects in your sights,” said the general, who apparently read Hoffman’s tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. after his F-16 was shot down by an old Soviet missile in the skies of Serbia.
The last “plan to capture Kaliningrad” was entrusted to voice analyst, senior researcher of the Jamestown Foundation, Richard Hooper. He believes that thanks to the build-up of ground military forces in the region of the United States and Poland, Russia will not be able to resist the NATO onslaught and will lose control of the territory. Nato troops have two weeks to achieve the victory. At the same time, it is noted that military actions will develop only at the regional level. The reason for such a hypothetical conflict in the report of The Hope is not clearly formulated, it is said only a hackneyed argument that Russia “has some plans for the Baltics”. In general, also a talker.
The idea of capturing the Kaliningrad region was picked up by the Chinese, also prominent theorists of wars and armed conflicts. Now here is a little-known Chinese news portal Eastday fantasized on the topic: “How will events develop in the event of an armed confrontation between Russia and NATO?” to capture the Kaliningrad region in about two days. At the same time, Moscow will react harshly and strike back at six or eight American cities, though it is not claimed how. Also, by and large, solid politology. At the same time, in Russia itself, the Chinese publication drew the attention of the media. Vladimir Lukin, a member of the International Affairs Committee, said that he saw no signs that anyone wanted to take over the Kaliningrad region. The Ministry of Defense did not pay any attention to such “stupidity” at all, they did not even remind that there is a powerful grouping of army and navy forces in the region.
“All these conversations and mythical plans about the armed confrontation between NATO and Russia, about the possible seizure of the Kaliningrad region are primarily aimed at maintaining the morale of Poland and the Baltic states,” said political scientist Alexander Simovsky. “Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn show a willingness to protect them from alleged Russian aggression. The Americans have put their military forces there, in every way show readiness for joint protection, but this, as it seems, is not enough – afraid of the allies. Okay, then here’s the sugar bone in the form of a plan to capture Kaliningrad. Here the NATO military can be compared to a brave tailor who nailed flies on a sandwich with jam, wrote on the belt “One fell seven beatings” and went to conquer the giant.
Another thing is that this plan is not feasible, it can only become a prerequisite for the third world war, for which the same U.S. is not ready. And even assuming that some attempt of an armed invasion of Kaliningrad by Poland will be made, it automatically means that the Russian tank rink will roll non-stop across the Baltics, and will not do stops all the way to Warsaw. Everyone understands this and is wary of such a development of the scenario, but you can reason as much as you like.
The disposition of the forces in the region is clearly not in favor of the alliance. For a land operation even more so. The Russian-Polish border in the Kaliningrad region is almost two hundred kilometers, most of which are impassable marshy and wooded areas. Accordingly, it is much easier to defend them. At the same time, Russia has a hypothetical option of emergency redeployment of its forces and assets, including the tank army, along the so-called Suvalkov Corridor, which The Daily Beast called “NATO’s Achilles heel.”
This is a section of the area where Poland and Lithuania have a common border of about 65 kilometers, adjacent to it and Belarus. The Corridor in case of hostilities can connect the main territory of Russia with the Kaliningrad region. The California-based RAND think tank has compiled a simulation model that shows what the imbalance can be during a conflict. Against the rapidly mobilized 25 Russian battalions of 10,000 men (it is believed that more), NATO will immediately be able to field only 17 battalions with 6,800 fighters in service. In addition, Russia will have a sufficient number of armored vehicles, including heavy tanks with 125 mm guns, which are stationed in the vicinity of the Suvalkov Corridor. NATO is represented here by Stryker armored personnel carriers armed with 30 mm cannons. Heavy armored vehicles are hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers away. According to American analysts, NATO’s infantry would not even be able to successfully retreat – it would be destroyed on the spot.
At the same time, it is stressed that if Russia manages to close the Suvalkov Corridor, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia will be cut off from the rest of NATO. Experts also warn that elements of hybrid warfare can also be used here – a combination of covert operations and sabotage.
The strengthening of NATO’s “eastern flank” began with the transfer of the Third Armoured Brigade Combat Team from the 4th Infantry Division of the United States, whose equipment was delivered through the German port of Bremerhaven to Poland. 3.5 thousand troops, more than 400 units of tracked equipment, including 87 Abrams tanks, the force is certainly impressive. But, by and large, partially useless, and certainly not threatening the Russian Kaliningrad region, which, in fact, is aimed at this armored “fist.”
However, it turned out that the heavy Abrams tanks can not withstand Polish bridges, do not accommodate them by dimensions and railway tunnels. Accordingly, it is impossible to talk about their mobility, and the American group got stuck in the west of Poland, in the small town of Jagan. And from there to the city of Olsztyn near the Russian border about 500 kilometers, which tanks still have to overcome. Again, the presence in the Kaliningrad region of three Russian divisions and forces of the Baltic Fleet is able to contain the first onslaught of the enemy and wait for the approach of the tank armies, which will quickly pass along the Suvali corridor. It should not be forgotten that the Russian tank division, which performed from Kaliningrad, will be under the windows of the Belvedere Palace in Warsaw in 16 hours. So it is not clear whether it is necessary to “tease the geese” and impose a similar scenario of the situation in Europe.