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Russia Fury As Poland Renames Kaliningrad

Aleksander Kaasik, via Wikimedia Commons

The Kremlin has said that Poland’s decision to rename Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea coast is a “hostile act”.

Kaliningrad, which sits in an exclave sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland, was known by the German name of Königsberg until after the second world war, when it was annexed by the Soviet Union and renamed to honour politician Mikhail Kalinin.

Mikhail Kalinin was one of six Soviet Politburo signatories to the order to execute more than 21,000 Polish prisoners of war in the forests of Katyn and elsewhere in 1940.

Warsaw says that Kalinin’s connexion to the Katyn Massacre has negative connotations and that exclave should be called Królewiec – the Polish translation of Königsberg.

Kaliningrad is strategically important to Moscow because it houses the Russian Baltic Fleet at the port of Baltiysk and is one of Russia's only ice-free European ports.

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