From the letters to the editor of The Economist:
SIR – I suggest taking another page from Mr Putin’s playbook to resolve the lingering issue of Kaliningrad. This Russian-governed territory sits squarely isolated in the midst of the European Union and surrounded by NATO members.
Crimea was claimed to be historic Russian patrimony wrongfully annexed to Ukraine only by Nikita Khrushchev’s fiat in 1954. Kaliningrad was founded by German crusaders in the 13th century and remained a German speaking territory for over 700 years, until handed over to the Soviet Union as a war prize in 1945. Kaliningrad and its surrounding East Prussian territory never hosted any significant Russian population, nor was it ever claimed as historic Russian territory. Like Crimea, its population was alien to the annexing power, at least until that population of about two million Germans was forcibly removed from 1946-48, and replaced by settlers from the far reaches of the Soviet state.
Given this legacy, and Mr Putin’s view of such territories, he would certainly wish to right wrongs and offer to return Kaliningrad to its mother country, Germany.
Phillip A. Buhler
Not that I think that Germany should make any claims on any territory – after all it had caused the war which lead to that loss and it took, inter alia, the Soviet Union to liberate Europe and indeed Germany itself from the Nazis -, but in the light of the annexation of Crimea it’s an interesting thought.