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World Cup 2018: Kaliningrad – the venue next door to the West

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For European football fans wary of Russia, a World Cup match just 50km (31 miles) across the border from the EU could be just the ticket.

The westernmost host city for the tournament, Kaliningrad is a Russian exclave squeezed between Lithuania and Poland. As six of the eight teams playing there are from Europe, many visiting fans could bypass Moscow altogether.

One popular route for England supporters is likely to involve a budget flight to Gdansk and a short hop into Russia by bus.

Previously known as Königsberg, Kaliningrad was German territory for centuries before World War Two. Residents say that past, and their region’s position, give the place a unique character.

“The mentality in Kaliningrad is different to the rest of Russia. People are more smiley, open and friendly here,” claims the director of the city’s airport, Alexander Korytny.

“Citizens of Kaliningrad are very mobile,” he adds, and more likely to travel west for the weekend than to Moscow.

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