17,000+ Russians Cross Poland’s Border with Kaliningrad in Short 5-Day Window

RUSSIA – The Polish authorities have reported a significant surge in individuals crossing the border with the Kaliningrad region to fly to Russia for Russian Christmas.

According to the Polish Border Guard, between December 23 and 27, approximately 17,014 people traversed the Bezledy and Grzechotki borders with Kaliningrad, with a total of 4,998 vehicles registered during this period. This marked a substantial increase compared to other days.

Authorities anticipate a continued high number of crossings in the early days of January, coinciding with the celebration of Russian Christmas on January 7.

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Due to European Union sanctions against Russia, Russians are unable to take direct flights from the EU. As a result, they travel to the Kaliningrad region or Türkiye and then proceed to Russia. Notably, Germany has a sizable Russian population, and Russians residing there often drive to Kaliningrad’s Khrabrovo Airport, leaving their cars while flying to Moscow or St Petersburg.

While this travel method is cost-effective and widely adopted by Russians, Notes from Poland highlights the frustration among the ethnic Polish population in Kaliningrad. Those with Russian-registered cars feel unfairly restricted from crossing the border compared to Russians with EU-registered cars.

The ethnic Polish community in Kaliningrad, holding Polish citizenship or a Karta Polaka confirming their ethnicity, expresses dissatisfaction with the inability to travel freely to and from Poland due to the ban on Russian-registered cars. Some resort to paying individuals with EU-registered cars up to €400 for transportation.

Out of the total individuals crossing the Polish border with the Kaliningrad region from December 23 to 27, only 824 were Poles. This disparity suggests challenges faced by the Polish population in traveling to and from the region due to imposed restrictions.

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