Far to the east, the newly elected speaker of the Ukrainian rebel regions’ parliament also sounded optimistic about the upcoming legislative session. “I am certain that we must close the circle,” said Oleg Tsarov. “The civil war that started in Odessa must end in Odessa, as well.” That’s Odessa, Crimea, or Odessa, Russia, depending on how permanent you believe Russia’s annexation of Crimea to be. But it’s certainly not Odessa, Ukraine, which is what it was in February.
According to his bio blurb, Andrew L. Peek, the author of the article quoted above is
A combat veteran and former U.S. Army Intelligence officer, Andrew L. Peek is a doctoral candidate at The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where he teaches political theory and strategic studies. He served as strategic advisor to the top U.S. and NATO commander.
Despite all this impressive credentials, Peek is not aware that Odessa is a strategically important port city not on the Crimean peninsula, but in southern Ukraine. Presumably his editors at Fiscal Times don’t know it either.
Russian-speaking since its founding by Catherine the Great, in the 2oth century Odessa became a vibrant society, birth place of Akhmatova, Chukovsky, Jabotinsky, known for its comedic talent and celebrated in Soviet popular song. Historically, Odessa was majority Russian, with a huge Jewish minority and, some of the most horrific pogroms notwithstanding, a cosmopolitan bend. It is now said to be majority ethnic Ukrainian (probably mixed Russian and Ukrainian), but still russophone and Russian-leaning. A few months ago I reposted a report by British journalist Graham Phillips about a looming street fight between Ukrainian Pravy Sektor and pro-Russian locals on the streets of Odessa.
Odessa region is contiguous to Prednestrovie area of Moldova on which Russia also has designs. It’s a warm water port and the entry point of Odessa-Brody pipeline to Poland. It was the most important city in the region historically referred to as Novorussia (yes, it did exist, albeit the name was not in use over the last 100 years, and it was in what is now south Ukraine, not Donbass, the scene of the current civil war). So Novorussia project is not complete without Odessa.
The trouble with Peek is not just that he doesn’t know geography, but that he has no clue about the events to which Tsarev is referring. It should be obvious to anyone who follows Ukrainian politics because the event in question was a turning point in the first stage of Ukrainian insurgency which was both fueled by Russia and genuine.
After the overthrow of Yanukovich and takeover of Crimea, there were attempts to implement “Crimean scenario” across the south-east. In Donbass, it turned into a full-blown civil war, but elsewhere it was stomped out in a bud. Organizers were arrested, but, most importantly, the residents of south-east, whatever their political leanings, decided that they don’t want another Odessa.
What exactly happened in Odessa on the second of May this year is hard to decipher. Reportedly, a 2000-strong pro-Ukrainian rally made up mostly of soccer fans and Pravy Sektor clashed with 300 reported pro-Russian activists (Ukrainians say they were attacked). After that, the pro-Ukrainian demonstrators turned to the Trade Union building which separatists were occupying. Teenage girls cheerfully prepared Molotov cocktails that were thrown into the building, setting it on fire and burning dozens. Several days after the incidents it was discovered that most occupiers, including a 50-year-old cleaning lady, were killed before the fire reached them. So this look like a conspiracy. FSB? SBU? The oligarchs?
And yet, the day after the massacre, and before any kind of investigation took place, Vladimir Nemirovsky, then freshly appointed by the provisional government Odessa governor, took to Facebook. Nemirovsky wrote that he considers “lawful” the action of “Odessa residents” who “stopped armed terrorists”. And while the Western pundits are trying to figure out how this all was a false flag operation (because Ukrainian side doesn’t know how to play hardball, apparently), Ukrainian nationalists are still doing their kumbaya and thanking those who “defended Odessa”.
Peek doesn’t know it yet, but the revolutionary combat euphoria may not last very long. Check up this update from Ukraine’s upcoming gas-less winter printed by the little Putinist mouthpiece called Reuters:
Conflict between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces in Ukraine’s industrial east has disrupted coal supplies to thermal power plants (TPP), which provide around 40 percent of the country’s electricity, and has left reserves critically low ahead of the cold winter months.
“We have no other option but to turn to the Russian producers and try to buy coal there, but we put the country’s energy security under severe threat,” Prodan said at a government meeting.
Earlier this year the government signed a deal to import 1 million tonnes of coal from South Africa and has already received three deliveries. But the supplier this week discontinued shipments amid allegations within Ukrainian media of irregularities within the deal.
Prodan on Wednesday denied the allegations and said the price struck within the deal was at market levels.
But he said other foreign traders were likely to refuse to work with Ukraine, fearing problems with the implementation of future contracts.
In other words, Ukraine is facing a cold winter and low morale which no arms supply is likely to cure.