Russia to cut off Ukraine from most vital sea link

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After capturing Kherson, Russian forces pushed westward toward Odessa, a much bigger prize. Taking Odessa means cutting Ukraine off from world shipping and the entire Black Sea coast….reports Asian Lite News

Russian troops have started taking over the around 900 km-long strategically important stretch starting from Odessa to Luhansk aimed at cutting off Ukraine from the Black Sea coast.

In the 12 days of war, Russia has taken over Kherson city on the Dnieper River near the Black Sea, while another strategic port city of Mariupol remains under heavy fire.

After capturing Kherson, Russian forces pushed westward toward Odessa, a much bigger prize. Taking Odessa means cutting Ukraine off from world shipping and the entire Black Sea coast.

Russian troops are now making all attempts to take over Mariupol. Russian troops have gained ground near Mariupol while naval forces gathered offshore, raising fears of an amphibious assault with local officials saying there was no power or heat.

Mariupol lies on the Sea of Azov. The port is part of a vital stretch of terrain Russia is apparently trying to capture. There was a temporary ceasefire at Mariupol and neighbouring Volnovakha between Russian and Ukrainian allowing locals residents to evacuate. But it fell off as they were not able to evacuate.

Shelling has resumed in these cities.

Ukrainian officials claimed that Russian artillery fire and airstrikes prevented residents from escaping the city, but Moscow maintains that it was Kiev that was sabotaging their efforts.

If the ceasefire had gone through, thousands of civilians from the two cities could have escaped into neighbouring Poland, Romania, Slovakia and elsewhere.

In the Luhansk region, the Russians are taking over the towns of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and Popasna.

Just before going to war, Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree recognising the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk – separatist held regions in the eastern Donbas area.

Putin explained that the reason behind the recognition is due to Ukraine ignoring these regions after the 2014 coup. He had alleged that the Ukrainian government never understood the aspirations of the Russian speaking communities in the eastern regions.

Once Russia takes over this stretch, it advances twoards central Ukraine up to north to Kiev from three directions.

This 900 km stretch from Odesa to Luhansk has been the centre of pitched battles in the 18th century also. It was historically controlled by the Ottoman Empire till Russia took control and was named Novorossiya (New Russia). It went to Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

With Russia taking control over this region, Ukraine will be completely cut from the sea — the vital link for international trade.

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