Through the scheme decided by the highest court with jurisdiction in and over Russia at the time, the European Court of Human Rights declared what the terrorist regime of Russia (see Parliamentary Assembly resolution of the 46 countries of Europe passing with 99 for, 1 absentia, and 0 against to declare "the Russian regime a terrorist one" which renders the question of the terrorist nature of the regime outside of the everyday parlor of politics into a matter of law.) falsely claimed to have been referenda to be illegal, unlawful, invalid, false, and therefor "null and void"; Russia impliedly took the position that, should it have been the will of the people, that needed to be honored.

In fact, it seems the terrorist regime of Russia expressed its recognition of the will of the people even in a situation where it knew that the referenda was falsified that to annex regions outside its de facto territory when accepting such regions it intended invaded.

If an actual legitimate popular initiative was held in Kaliningrad under the European Convention on Human Rights or the Convention on Civil and Political Right or the International Convention on Political and Civil Rights on deciding to join the EU, and say, a European referendum across the several member states of the EU accepting the Kaliningrad intention to join without meeting all the joining criteria of the EU, and the EU government honored the will of the peoples of the EU, could the enclave join the EU?

  • 11
    You mean Královec Region? Dec 9, 2022 at 7:57
  • 8
    This could be closed as speculation as it seems to involve a lot of imponderables about Putin's attitude, whether it would meet requirements on governance/democracy/economy/human rights, and whether anyone in the EU would want it. Your scenario on an EU-wide referendum is also quite fanciful. If your question is specifically about having part of a nation in the EU and part outside, that might be more answerable. (On the other hand, if this question is purely a dig at Russia's attitude to self-determination, then it's off-topic.)
    – Stuart F
    Dec 9, 2022 at 11:21
  • 2
    I wonder what is special about Kaliningrad in this question? If I would for example exchange Kaliningrad by St. Petersburg, what would change? Dec 9, 2022 at 16:10
  • 2
    @Trilarion: Yeah, perhaps a more realistic scenario would be Northern Ireland wanting to rejoin the EU without declaring independence from Britain.
    – dan04
    Dec 9, 2022 at 17:13
  • 6
    Kaliningrad Oblast does not include Saint Petersburg. They're both in Northwestern Federal District though.
    – alamar
    Dec 10, 2022 at 13:51

3 Answers 3


The EU has no provision for territory or people to be a part/citizen of it other than via being a part/citizen of a member state. I am not aware of the question ever arising for land, but for people the matter came up in the context of Brexit. Some British citizens argued that they should retain their EU citizenship, because it would be inappropriate to be stripped of it against their will. This approach was unsuccessful.

It is possible for territory of a EU member to not count as part of the EU, but that does not help us here - unless we want to consider the situation where Russia as a whole becomes a EU member, but exempts everything except Kaliningrad and its inhabits from this.

There is precedent for territory/people joining the EU other than by joining as a new member state, namely by an existing EU member annexing the area (Federal Republic of Germany annexing German Democratic Republic). So if Czechia were serious about annexing Královec, that would be a way for Kaliningrad to get into the EU without becoming independent. Of course, this would require the other EU members to recognize Královec as being part of Czechia, which isn't going to happen.

  • 4
    They could also seek for similar status that Northern Ireland has. But still, without Russian government consent, not going to happen. Dec 9, 2022 at 8:03
  • 1
    It is also (very hypothetically) possible that EU members may recognize Kaliningrad as a sovereign state under some kind of rebel government, then admit that to the EU. This is obviously extremely speculative.
    – wonderbear
    Dec 20, 2022 at 13:08
  • 1
    @wonderbear This extremely implausible scenario seems more plausible to mean than Kaliningrad getting annexed by an existing EU member, but Kaliningrad becoming an independent nation is explicitly ruled out by the question.
    – Arno
    Dec 21, 2022 at 0:56
  • @wonderbear Spain is never going to agree to any territory that has seceded unilaterally joining the EU, because of the precedent it would set for Catalonia.
    – Mike Scott
    Mar 13, 2023 at 20:35

There are plenty of implausible assumptions about the EU in this question.

  • The EU is not a sovereign state. It is a group of sovereign states who delegated certain sovereign powers to their central institutions. Any one EU member state can take their powers back by leaving the EU. "The government" of the EU is split between those central institutions and the representatives of the various state governments meeting in conference. Any one state can block much of the EU actions.
  • Changing the composition of the EU (i.e. admitting new members) would be a treaty change that needs to be approved by each member state according to their own rules. An EU-wide referendum would have no legal force in this regard.
  • The EU does not organize elections or referendums, member states do. So there can be no EU-without-the-members referendum.

Basically, the only precondition for admitting a new member is the consent of all existing members, each according to their own legal and constitutional requirements. When "the EU" communicates other conditions, that is merely a clarification of the intent of the member governments on what must happen before they start this process.

But the EU would be ill suited to admitting an entity which is not a sovereign state. Whenever the economic border of the EU is not a 'full' state border, that requires the cooperation of the states on both sides to make it work. Just consider the Northern Ireland problem because of Brexit. What you propose would be incredibly worse.

Regarding the Russian precendent, (a) the EU should not sink to that level and (b) even Russia did follow the sequence of first accepting sham independence and then accepting sham accession.

  • +1 but "even Russia did follow the sequence of first accepting sham independence and then accepting sham accession". Not in Crimea though, IIRC, where the referendum was held but Russia skipped the recognition of Crimea as a separate state (first). Jan 27, 2023 at 15:31
  • And actually I think they did not bother with that (independence first) with respect to Kherson oblast and Zaphorhiza oblast either en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…. Only in LPR & DPR. So it's more like the exception rather than the rule to recognize the region as independent first. Actually, I'm wrong about that, LOL: "On 29 September, Putin recognized Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions as independent countries, hours before annexing them". Jan 27, 2023 at 15:39
  • And I may be somewhat wrong about Crimea. It looks like there was no Putin-signed decree recognizing Crimea's independence, and it was merely done as a presser of their MFA web.archive.org/web/20140314085752/https://mid.ru/bdomp/… but still there was something Jan 27, 2023 at 16:09

I think this is indeed possible, but is more of a crisis scenario for the EU than a solution for something.

First, obviously you have to get consent of Kaliningrad current residents. Many of them would not mind having an EU passport, even as the supply of the region now tethers on a narrow thread of air corridor and naval shipments from SPb. However, all of these people have deep ties to Russia, where their relatives and friends live. Since it was all populated recently, that's almost everybody. So they will likely not be loyal to the current EU narrative towards Russia.

If you pull it off and Kaliningrad is a part of some EU state, Russian planes can't go there, and EU planes can't fly to Russia, so people of that region are basically stranded and severed from their extended families. Economic ties fell apart, so EU now has to take on monetary support of this region in addition to their help of Ukraine. Their neighbours Poles and Lithuanians are also pissed off by a half of million Russians now having freedom of movement across their border while not giving up on any of their world view.

Why this is a crisis scenario is because it may happen spontaneously, if situation in Russia worsens the region may try to secede and demand being a part of EU unilaterally, with all the forementioned problems as well as keeping an open transit with Russia, through which thousands of mainland Russians may come and demand the freedom of movement with EU as well.

In fact EU could just issue passports to all of Kaliningrad citizens (of what country?) but that would also mean an endless supply of Russians freely moving through the EU.

Additional problems: For Russians, EU is Schengen agreement. Russians will not vote to be a part of EU if they're not becoming a part of Schengen, since that would be meaningless to them. But, even long-time EU countries such as Romania and Bulgaria are not granted to be part of Schengen.

If Kaliningrad becomes a fast-track part of EU that would deal a major morale blow to Ukraine which is not admitted into EU to that day.

  • 3
    Those are all very interesting predictions for what would happen, but that's not what the question was asking for. The question was asking about how it would be possible for Kaliningrad to become a part of the EU, not what the consequences would be.
    – Philipp
    Dec 10, 2022 at 15:05
  • I have significant belief in the EU that they can make it happen from their side if they really wanted, and discussing their motivation to do so is off-topic.
    – alamar
    Dec 10, 2022 at 15:09
  • 1
    Indeed, but nobody asked for the motives either. The question was asking about the procedural aspects.
    – Philipp
    Dec 10, 2022 at 15:12
  • Unprecedented procedures happen all the time.
    – alamar
    Dec 10, 2022 at 16:10
  • 2
    "Many of them would not mind having an EU passport": what country would issue that passport?
    – phoog
    Dec 10, 2022 at 23:27

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