The Suwalki Gap

In the last episode of Intel Insights, we talked about India’s Siliguri Corridor, a 14 mile wide strip of land connecting central India with northeast India, and how China’s moves in Bhutan could impact India’s control of the Siliguri Corridor. Another important corridor (this time found in Europe) is the Suwalki Gap, or the Suwalki Corridor. This gap connects Russia’s enclave of Kaliningrad with Belarus, which is a big ally of Russia. The Suwalki Gap is sometimes called the most dangerous place in the world. More recently, it’s become even more significant due to its unique location – especially since Wagner Group mercenaries have been seen near this gap.

In this episode of Intel Insights, we focus on several key historical events that led to the formation of the Suwalki Gap, like the multiple partitions of Poland, and how Kaliningrad came about. We’ll also discuss why the Suwalki Gap is extremely critical for Russian security, the vulnerability that exists for both sides, and what to expect regarding the economic aspect, cyber space, increased military incursions, and more for these countries involved.

If Russia were to lose their grip on the Kaliningrad Oblast, they would not only lose a vital economic zone, but also a great deal of prestige. As the Russian forces continue to struggle in Ukraine, the last thing Vladimir Putin wants is to lose something like the Kaliningrad Oblast, which is strategically important to Russia. While we don’t know what will happen next, we do know this is an extremely dangerous situation that may complicate Putin’s war effort, and ultimately, further loosen his grip on power. 

Interesting Fact: 

Poland was originally a very large country; it consisted of both Poland and Lithuania, and was known as the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania. It existed this way for several centuries, and even elected kings for a time. This area was the object of a lot of political intrigue in Europe whenever a new king was going to be elected. 

Episode Timestamps:
  • Key historical events surrounding the creation of the Suwalki Gap {02:10}
  • Why the Suwalki Gap has become critical to Russian security {10:40}
  • Reasons why there is vulnerability for both sides on the Suwalki Gap {13:34}
  • The relationship between Russia, Belarus, and Poland {15:40}
  • What to expect regarding the economic pressure placed on Russia, cyber attacks from Russia and Belarus, increased military incursions and border vigilance {18:00}

“One of the key things to keep in mind is that sometimes the flash points in history are in territories that are sparsely populated. They have difficult climates, and they’re remote, but those remote areas are often transit points. Those transit points become incredibly important from both an economic standpoint and a military standpoint.”

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