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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report: Germany Has Secret Plan on Kaliningrad

Germany has hatched a secret plan to acquire economic domination over Kaliningrad, the former East Prussian capital, in exchange for forgiveness for part of Russia's $22 billion debt to Berlin, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The newspaper quoted unidentified German officials as saying that German Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der has agreed to assist the European Union in reaching a trade deal with the Russian enclave by using Moscow's debt as leverage. Such an agreement, which would effectively return the territory to Berlin's sphere of influence, was floated by Schr?der during a visit to the Kremlin this month, the report said.

Foreign Ministry officials denied the British paper's report Sunday.

The ministry's representative to Kaliningrad told Ekho Moskvy radio station that the article was part of "an information war against Kaliningrad."

Kaliningrad, formerly called K?nigsberg, was part of Germany until it was captured by the Soviet Army in 1945. The economy of the enclave bordering Lithuania and Poland has been stagnant for years.

Germany has never publicly attempted to reclaim its former territory.

Political analysts cast doubt Sunday on the likelihood that President Vladimir Putin and Schr?der were talking about a debt deal involving Kaliningrad, pointing out how sensitive the Kremlin is about other territory issues like the Kuril Islands. "This is a very painful issue and I would question its earnestness," said Yevgeny Volk of the Heritage Foundation.

Volk said any talks that Putin had with Schr?der probably focused on getting the same economic ties for Kaliningrad as other Russian regions have with Germany.

EU countries, especially Sweden and Finland, in recent months called for urgent steps to be taken to prevent Kaliningrad from becoming an island of crime, disease, corruption and environmental problems inside the bloc when Poland and Lithuania join in the next few years.

Chris Patten, the EU external relations commissioner, visited Moscow last week to discuss the union's concerns about Kaliningrad, saying he wanted a business-like dialogue about the enclave.

"Russian officials have, for some time, been pressing us to indicate our understanding of the impact on Kaliningrad of EU enlargement," Patten told reporters Friday. "And now, in what I think they concede is a business-like way, we have actually brought forward ideas for discussion."

Patten was to give Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov a list of EU proposals on cooperation between Russia and the EU.