The West Needs a Plan for the Black Sea

As Ukrainian troops advanced along the western banks of the Dnipro River and the Black Sea coast toward the city of Kherson in the first days of November, they passed through villages and towns steeped in centuries of complex history. The area surrounding the small town of Snihurivka, for instance, had at different historical moments been centers of Greek, Jewish, Tatar, Cossack and even Swedish cultural life. The Black Sea port of Ochakiv, from which Ukrainian special operations forces are now launching naval raids on Russian forces, first rose to prominence as a Roman colony and later became a place of battle and cultural exchange between the Ottoman Empire and the Cossack Hetmanate in the 17th century. All of these communities also bear the scars of more recent imperial wars of conquest, whether by Russian and then Soviet imperial systems that worked to erase the traces of previous ways of life, or by the genocidal war pursued by Nazi Germany in the 1940s.


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