Russia: January 26, 2001

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Germany's province of East Prussia disappeared after World War II. Most of it went to Poland, but Russia retained the city of Konigsberg and it's environs (about the size of Northern Ireland.) They renamed the city Kaliningrad and made it a major naval base. When the Soviet Union fell apart, Russia kept Kaliningrad, and today it's million Russian inhabitants live in poverty. The Russian fleet is no longer around to provide much economic activity. Germany is reported to be negotiating with Russia to forgive some of the $22 billion Russia owes Germany if German firms are allowed to set up businesses in Kaliningrad. The city still looks quite German in places, at least where pre-war buildings survive. The locals would love to have the Germans, or at least their money and jobs. The place has become a tourist destination for Germans nostalgic for the lost province of East Prussia. But this is what makes Russians (and nearby Poles and Lithuanians) nervous. There is still the fear that Germany will try and retake East Prussia. Few Germans, except for aging refugees from the province, even think about that. The main attraction is the extensive port facilities that once served the Soviet Baltic fleet. Germany has long been a major economic power in the Baltic, and German firms operating out of Kaliningrad would enhance that position.

 

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