Kaliningrad — former East Prussia of Germany is in Russian possession since 1945 when according to Potsdam conference Eastern Prussia was divided between Soviet Union and Poland. The regional capital Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad. As the westernmost territory of Soviet Union it gained its military importance primary for Soviet Baltic navy as a spearhead into Atlantic. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Kaliningrad became part of Russian Federation was separated from rest of Russia as Lithuania regained its independence. Today Kaliningrad region is sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland. This increased the military importance of the region as the Baltic Navy struggled to keep its position in the Baltic Sea and compensate the loss of Liepāja War port that was regained by Latvia.
Since 2014 following rise of tensions between Russia and NATO countries, Kaliningrad region gained a prime importance in the Baltic States security question. Western and Russian military experts view Kaliningrad region as important bridgehead for Russian military and navy to gain control over Baltic States and Baltic Sea. The speculations about so called Suwalki gap – a narrow territory between Kaliningrad and Belarus controlled by Poland and Lithuania could be captured by Russian and Belarusian forces to block the entry into Baltic States. In similar way the Baltic Navy could attempt to block entry into Baltic Sea. Knowing these factors Russia has increased military presence in the region and use the region as pressure towards NATO. Latest Russian threat to install S-400 missiles the region shows how importantly Russia views this enclave. In practical therms the region already causes multiple incidents and encounters with NATO forces. As Russian military is unable to supply and deploy forces in Kaliningrad by land its only route is Baltic Sea by sea and air. The narrow route between Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Swedish sea and air borders is always a matter a risk since Russian navy and air force always trying to transport their forces in secrecy by turning air and sea transponders off causing NATO air force and navy to scramble them creating constant encounters between both sides. So far all encounters have ended peacefully. Kaliningrad is smallest region in Russia with area of 15,100 km² and population of 941,873 people serves as one of the most important regions in Russia as its more far west region and separated from rest of country. According to 2014 data the region holds 225,000 military personnel, the number that seems to have increased last two years. Kaliningrad is both advantage and danger for Russian military and political interests in the Baltic region and a challenge for NATO to counter the possible treats coming from Russian military stationed there.
This article is collection of observation of Russian military installations in the Kaliningrad region using internet sources and local observations gained from visiting the region. The most sources here are pictures posted on Russian social networks by Russian soldiers social nets who served there. Secondary sources are pictures and written observations gained directly when visiting the region in 2016. Finally the article offers a list of all known Russian military units in Kaliningrad. The article is meant for people who are interested in the Russian military presence inside Kalinigrad region.
Russian Military Units in Kaliningrad
This table is English translation from publicly available source in Russian. Some of the unit numbers and exact locations remain unknown, especially the radio and communications units.
Click on the thumbnail to get the full file
Unit 54229 152nd Guards Brest-Warsaw Red Banner Order of Kutuzov missile brigade. Location Chernyakhovsk
Unit 39108 25th separate coastal missile regiment. Svetlogorsky district, Donskoye settlement
Unit 79th separate Guards mechanized infantry brigade 90151 Gusev, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya street, 16
Unit 40129 522th communications unit 236006, Kaliningrad, Streletskaya street
Russian Baltic Fleet Special forces (Spetznaz) divers, paratroops and recons. Baltiysk.
Baltiysk Naval Base
Baltiysk formerly known as Pillau serves as home for Baltic Navy in Kaliningrad. Since the loss of war port in Liepāja Latvia its the only Russian major naval base in the Baltic Sea. Baltiysk is located in narrow land strip located on the northern part of the Vistula Spit, on the shore of the Strait of Baltiysk separating the Vistula Lagoon from the Gdańsk Bay. Baltiysk is the westernmost town of Russia. Population is 32,697 according to 2010 census. Almost all towns population is connected with the navy and army units. Population is made of currently serving men and woman and their families. Entry for foreign tourists are only permitted after checkups by Naval authority and Russian embassy. Town in many ways is in bad state with buildings in rotten shape and broken infrastructure however, its importance cannot be underestimated as its serves as key to the entry into Kaliningrad bay and hosts much of the Baltic navy while other units are located in Leningrad region.
Observations of the Radio bases in the region
On the way to Baltiysk there is small coastal town Primorsk. Driving trough the town many military objects with stored transports, APC’s (BTR) and communications trucks were seen. One of them had noticeable shortwave antennas. According to wikimapia there is many military objects located in Primorsk because town is right before Baltiysk and serves as assist and supply point.
On the way to Chernyakhovsk a large VHF radar antenna and domes were spotted. After observing the travel route in Wikimapia the object turned out to be Surface to Air missile S-200 base. The coordinates for the object are 54°35’10.00’N 21° 7’60.00’E
Along the road from Chernakhovsk to Gusev a large radio tower along with many smaller antennas making a antenna field was spotted. Only the main tower can be seen in pictures, but from the scene the location looked like a antenna field. On Wikimapia this object is not market and has not been traced yet.
There are numerous military objects scattered around Kaliningrad region many of them along Polish border. Many of these objects can be traced on Wikimapia or in Russian web. The reason for such high military presence is that region is strategically encircled by the NATO countries. Russian commanders probably see this as a vulnerability, that’s why much has been done to reinforce the region since 2014. The question what will be this region role in possible conventional conflict with NATO countries lies in speculations. The Russian and Belarusian forces could possibly seize the Lithuanian-Polish border area around Marijumpole and in larger operation control the Polish Suwalki region to cut off Baltic States from receiving military land support. The path between Kaliningrad and Belarus is narrow and therefore a high interest for both sides. However, more speculations follow – in case of direct conflict -how Russia will defend the 232 km long border with Poland. The Masurian lake region since 1914 is one of the most infamous locations for Russian military. How Russian Air Force and Navy will be able to gain upper hand for Baltic skies and waters? These are questions both sides are discussing every day. NATO attack on Kaliningrad region seems highly unlikely the Russian military action in Baltic States remains a speculation. In the end judging by the high amounts of propaganda and military patriotic citizens seen in the region its no doubt this regions population that emerged here in the result of World War 2 will be very loyal to Moscow and show fierce resistance to the NATO forces. That’s why the conflict between both sides in the Baltic region needs to be contained as long as possible however until ease of military and political tensions both sides needs to be ready.