Video appears to show Russian fighters retreating
Wedged along Poland and Lithuania’s border, and between Belarus – and the Wagner Group – and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Suwalki Gap is one of the most dangerous places on Earth.
Long before war decayed the border between Ukraine and Russia last year, bringing with it the start of the latest bloody war in Europe, in Druskininkai, the 40-mile pathway of territory along the Polish-Lithuanian border also known as the Suwalki corridor, has been a contentious region.
Across the years, Warsaw and Vilnius have ardently fought for control, and as it stands today it is part of Poland – known as the only land border between mainland Europe and the Baltic states.
Its location makes it highly significant, with a pin placed in it by Russia’s egocentric leader Vladimir Putin, who seems to remain eager to invade Poland with a band of bloodthirsty mercenaries.
Many believe the only way for Russia, and the Wagner Group which also holds ambitions of helping take Warsaw, to succeed in conquering Poland is through the Suwalki Gap.
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Despite its clear status as becoming the epicentre of Russia’s war with Ukraine and the West, the Suwalki Gap is actually made up mainly of rolling hills, a few villages and farmland.
It is a popular tourist destination for Russians and Belaurusians, as little has changed since it was also a popular tourist destination during the Cold War.
The prospect of invasion seems par for the course for locals, as local resident Danukas, 22, who who grew up in Druskininkai told Politico: “We don’t live in that fear. If it happens, yes, people will be wondering but right now that’s not really the case.”
One railway line and two major highways puncture the scene, making it a tough area for both Russian and Ukrainian forces to reach, take over and defend.
Since Putin’s troops marched on Ukraine, panic among the Baltic nations has been consuming, with many believing time was ticking on a potential invasion.
NATO troops, many thousands including from Britain, remain in the Baltics but are only there as a “tripwire” force, their role simply holding up any invasion until the western alliance can summon its forces.
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For Russia then its primary chances of making progress in the Baltics rely on them stifling the chances of NATO getting more troops in – making the Suwalki Gap vital.
With the gap secured, Moscow could cut off any supplies being sent in via Poland or Germany – the home of NATO’s two largest bases.
Another added benefit for Putin and his Kremlin cronies is that the gap is that it could create a land bridge between Belarus and Kaliningrad, Russia’s most heavily military spot of land on the Baltic Sea.
As a result of its vital role in what misery Russia inflicts on Europe next, the Suwalki Gap has been dubbed the “most dangerous place on Earth”.
In order to maintain peace around the region, the US proposed opening its own military base in Poland to support peace – called Fort Trump.
Named after the then-US President Donald Trump, the plan was condemned by critics as a vanity project for the White House leader – despite its name being suggested by the Polish government.
However, the proposal had stalled by 2020 with Poland’s reticence in committing to a US-requested funding threshold.
Like Fort Trump, the future of the Suwalki Gap remains shrouded in mystery.
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