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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/23/22

The Kremlin still has an active military base in Germany: Königsberg case

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Message Gatis Krūms

Russia's war against Ukraine, launched after a decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has forever changed the history of both countries, Europe and the world as a whole. Many things feel different now - information that was kept a secret, has now been divulged, and the cause-and-effect links between past and present events have become so evident that we can no longer treat the status quo as normal or natural.

The unexpected removal of Russia's mask - a mask of a civilized country that was home to Tolstoy, Pushkin, Lermontov, Tchaikovsky, Vasnetsov and other great cultural workers, artists and scientists that deserve to be canonized in the context of global civilization - revealed a country with imperialistic ambitions, or even more precisely, the feeling of global superiority and the right to play with the fates of its neighboring countries and redraw their borders.

As the heir to the Soviet Union, Russia inherited its endless urge for expanding its borders. Interestingly, the Soviet Union inherited these cursed genes from the Tsardom of Russia, that was never satisfied with the size of its territory and that constantly attempted to expand at the expense of its neighboring states. This was particularly the case when the neighbor had a liking to freedom and a higher quality of life. It all began with the Tsardom of Muscovy when Ivan the Great conquered the democratic Novgorod Republic in 1478. The reason for conquest was always the same - some threat to the state's existence. First, it was the Tsardom of Muscovy, then the Russian Empire, then the USSR and now the Russian Federation. Moreover, each incarnation of the Russian state found itself in a difficult position because it wanted to surpass its predecessor - to reaffirm its right to decide the fates of its neighbors and other countries.

And the current ruler of Russia ended up in a most challenging situation. He did get the country, but as it turns it is not as big as he would have liked to. Not the size of Nicholas II, and definitely not as big as the Soviet Union. Also, the world had changed, and it suddenly became necessary to factor in something called international law. At least to some extent.

One cannot just wage war without any reason or explanation, as it might make you lose face and be cast out.

But the world did not stand still. As it turns out, international law cannot be respected only to some extent or merely "formally". Now, it is hardly possible to fool anyone with the statement "we are being threatened". Now, we know that the call to "free our brothers in faith" during the reign of Nicholas II, or to "free the proletariat" during Stalin's era - it is the same call masking the wish to expand the country's borders just like Vladimir Putin's call to "protect Russian-speakers against mistreatment and discrimination".

The unity we see now between countries trying to help Ukraine repel the full-scale assault by the Russian Armed Forces, tells us that they have had enough of being close to an unpredictably aggressive neighbor with maniacal thoughts of superiority and the right to rule over others. Now, those neighboring the aggressor have an opportunity to pacify him forever, and return what was taken from them in the past.

This is exactly how we should view the statement by the Japanese government about it considering the so-called Northern Territories (the southernmost islands of the Kuril archipelago - Habomai, Shikotan and Iturup) to be a part of Japan's territory. Moreover , President of Moldova Maia Sandu has called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (also called Transnistria), which is considered an integral part of Moldova. Additionally, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has officially recognized Transnistria to be occupied by Russian forces. Ukraine will never stop reminding about Crimea being taken away by Russia in 2014. While Finland should consider the territories along Lake Ladoga that were taken away by the Soviet Union after the Soviet-Finnish war in 1939-1940.

There is one more rather sizable territory that has not yet been mentioned in the emerging movement of returning what was once unlawfully taken away - Kaliningrad Oblast with its capital Kaliningrad, previously called KÃ nigsberg.

Naturally, Russians believe this is their territory under international law and they will restlessly try to convince anyone that this is the case. The facts, however, are that this land was handed over to the Soviet Union for 50 years starting with the Potsdam Conference (17 July to 2 August, 1945). It was there Stalin got what he asked for in the Tehran Conference (28 November to 1 December, 1943), i.e. a part of East Prussia with its capital KÃ nigsberg. But the deal was not perfect - this was not to be forever, but instead for 50 years, and the territory should not have been incorporated, but instead governed externally. In 1995, the participants of the Potsdam Conference, i.e. the USSR, US and UK were to make the final decision regarding the fate of the region with the participation of Germany as well. When Stalin voiced his claims to KÃ nigsberg in 1943 in Tehran, he argued that the USSR required an ice-free port in the Baltic Sea. The victors of World War II required that Germany be demilitarized, de-Nazified and democratized, but they never asked for the destruction of the German state.

Upon receiving this part of East Prussia, the Soviet Union turned it into a militarized enclave filled with troops and military equipment on the scale of an entire military district, allowing it to threaten European countries. From the first day of being externally governed by the Soviets, peaceful German citizens felt the full effect of being on the losing side of war. Woe to the defeated, as they say" Then came the 1946-1948 deportations to the Soviet occupation zone, which later became the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany. A family was limited to bringing no more than 300 kilograms of belongings. The Germans must not forget this. And it is also time for them to let go of the guilt of starting World War II, as well as the immense gratitude towards Russians for allowing them to unite East Germany and West Germany. Historians have long ago established the role of the USSR in causing the war - regardless of whether Russians like it or not.

Germany, drunk on its unification, signed an agreement that it has no territorial claims to anything that exists outside the border of West Germany and East Germany. However, it is well known that at this exact moment the USSR violated what was agreed during the Potsdam Conference of 1945. When 1995 came, there was no joint decision made by the participants of the conference regarding Kaliningrad Oblast that would have also seen participation by Germany. Now, everything depends on whether Germany wants to raise the issue of returning Kaliningrad-KÃ nigsberg and the entire region. Now, is the right time to act.

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The Kremlin still has an active military base in Germany: Königsberg case

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