RUSSIA,UKRAINE: The Black Sea port of Odessa is mining its beaches and rushing to defend its cultural heritage from a feared Mariupol-style fate in the face of growing alarm that the strategic city might be next as Russia attempts to strip Ukraine of its coastline.
The multi-cultural jewel, dear to Ukrainian hearts and even Russian ones, would be a hugely strategic win for Russia. It is the country’s largest port, crucial to grain and other exports, and headquarters for the Ukrainian navy.
Bombardment from the sea last weekend further raised worries that the city is in Russia’s sights.
Once a gilded powerhouse of the Russian empire, Odessa includes one of the finest opera houses in Europe and the famed Potemkin Steps between the city and the sea, featured in Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 silent film masterpiece “Battleship Potemkin.”
The seizure of Odessa and the strip of land farther west also would allow Moscow to build a land corridor to the separatist Trans-Dniester region of neighbouring Moldova that hosts a Russian military base.
Meanwhile, Russia is trying to split Ukraine in two to create a Moscow-controlled region after failing to take over the whole country, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence said today.
“In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine,” Kyrylo Budanov said in a statement, adding that Ukraine would soon launch guerrilla warfare in Russian-occupied territory. Meanwhile, with peace talks between Russia and Ukraine set to take place in Turkey this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insisted on the territorial integrity of his country after earlier suggesting he was ready for a compromise.
Zelenskyy said in his video address to the Ukrainian people late on Sunday that in talks due to take place in Istanbul his Government would prioritise the “territorial integrity” of Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine could hold a referendum soon on joining Russia, the rebel region’s news outlet cited local leader Leonid Pasechnik as saying on Sunday. Russia last month recognised Luhansk and Donetsk self-proclaimed republics as independent and ordered what it called a peacekeeping operation in the region shortly after.
– THE HINDUSTAN TIMES,THE MALAY MAIL