At The Cradle, Pepe Escobar explains some of the history of Odessa, and what that might mean for its future. He writes (abridged):
Catherine chose a Greek name for the city – which at the start was not Slav at all. And very much like St. Petersburg, founded a century earlier by Peter the Great, Odessa never stopped flirting with the west.
Tsar Alexander I, in the early 19th century, decides to turn Odessa into a great trading port – developed by a Frenchman, the Duke of Richelieu. It was from the port of Odessa that Ukrainian wheat started to reach Europe. By the turn of the 20th century, Odessa is truly multinational – after having attracted, among others, the genius of Pushkin.
Odessa is not Ukrainian: it’s an intrinsic part of the Russian soul. And soon the trials and tribulations of history will make it so again: as an independent republic; as part of a Novorossiya confederation; or attached to the Russian Federation. The people of Odessa will decide.
Under an ubiquitous, toxic atmosphere of cognitive dissonance drenched in Russophobia, it’s absolutely impossible to have a meaningful discussion on finer points of Russian history and culture across the NATO space – a phenomenon I’m experiencing back in Paris right now, fresh from a long stint in Istanbul.
At best, in a semblance of civilized dialogue, Russia is pigeonholed in the reductionist view of a threatening, irrational, ever-expanding empire – a way more wicked version of Ancient Rome, Achaemenid Persia, Ottoman Turkey or Mughal India.
With the fall of the USSR, Russia found itself in a geopolitical situation last encountered in the 17th century. The slow and painful reconstruction was spearheaded from two fronts: the KGB – later FSB – and the Orthodox church.
Ukraine for its part had become a de facto Moscow protectorate way back in 1654 under the Treaty of Pereyaslav: much more than a strategic alliance, it was a natural fusion, in progress for ages by two Orthodox Slav nations.
By Pepe Escobar, The Cradle
Read more here.
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