Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived on Thursday for a visit to the Kaliningrad region, where, according to the Kremlin, he was preparing to discuss the issues of transit through Lithuania, amid sharp tensions between Moscow and the EU over the war in Ukraine.
“Of course, Kaliningrad is a very important region of Russia… The complex situation related to payments to Europe will certainly be discussed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian media before the visit.
During the visit, on the occasion of the beginning of the school year, V. Putin met with schoolchildren of the Kaliningrad region and answered questions on various topics, from economics and space exploration to the Kremlin’s military intervention in Ukraine.
“The mission of our soldiers is to stop this war [Donbase]to protect people and, of course, Russia itself,” V. Putin said in television reports.
According to him, “the creation of an anti-Russian enclave, which poses a threat to our country, has begun on the territory of current Ukraine.”
Putin’s visit to Kaliningrad comes amid tensions between Moscow and Brussels after the European Union imposed a series of sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
In June, Russia became embroiled in a dispute with Lithuania after Vilnius restricted the transit of sanctioned goods by rail from the Russian mainland to Kaliningrad.
After threats and protests from Moscow, Brussels declared that Lithuania must allow the transit of Russian goods, except for weapons.
Last month, Russia said it had deployed three planes armed with Kinzhal missiles, which Moscow calls hypersonic weapons, to the Kaliningrad region. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that these aircraft will be on “24/7 combat duty”.
The Kaliningrad region, which was taken from Germany by the Red Army towards the end of World War II, was separated from the main part of Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed and Lithuania became an independent state.
This Baltic Sea exclave, sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland, is heavily militarized and has no land border with Russia.
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