War in Ukraine: Odessa, more in Kremlin's eyes than ever? Vladimir Putin makes it an obsession

Amplification of signals

In any case, the signals in this direction seem to be increasing. On Monday March 18, an abandoned helicopter exploded at a military base in the Moldovan separatist region of Transnistria. The information did not cause much fanfare, but Russia immediately accused Ukraine of being behind the attack. Local separatists called Russia for help, the incident was forgotten, and everything points to Moscow being behind this apparent provocation.

However, Transnistria may strategically allow the Kremlin to implement an old plan. In early 2014, amid the destabilization of the Donbass, Vladimir Putin extolled the merits of “Novorossiya” to persuade the region's separatist population to join the Russian Federation. This “New Russia” directly refers to a territory that existed during the time of the Russian Empire, and was connected to Moldova via Rostov (Russia) Ukraine. At the center of this area we find occupied Crimea, especially Odessa, a city as beloved by Russians as by Ukrainians.

In Odessa, the strange nature of the never-ending war: “Enjoy life, you never know when it will end”

Odessa's “Russian Past”

During his annual press conference last December, Vladimir Putin subtly recalled the “Russian past” of the city of Odessa, of which he was obsessed. In 2022, the Kremlin leader had already said: “Odessa can be a place of contradiction, a symbol of conflict resolution, a symbol of finding some kind of solution to everything that is happening now”. A way to signal that the city could be the military's ultimate goal of forcing Ukraine to negotiate.

However, in 2014, his men failed to capture the city. On May 2, 2014, 48 pro-Russian activists died during an act of destabilization. Ukrainian activists strongly opposed Russia's visit. The disaster marked a Russian president who regularly used it in his speeches to justify the war in Ukraine.

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300,000 men?

If political announcements about the city's numbers are dozens, state television also does a lot on a daily basis to describe the city as a historically obvious target for Russia. Placed on the same level as the port of Sevastopol in the hearts of Russians nostalgic for the Soviet Union, Odessa is above all at the center of Ukrainian naval control of the Black Sea. It is from this region that Kyiv still exports grain. Seizing the city would pose a threat to Moldova, whose southern pro-Russian region of Caucasia is subject to ongoing destabilization efforts.

After his re-election, Vladimir Putin was suspected of preparing a new “military order” in Ukraine. After the Moscow attack, a new radicalization in the Ukrainian case seems inevitable. The proposed link between the act of terrorism and Ukraine is unlikely, but the Kremlin and its spokespeople are trying to make it. Repression necessarily escalates after the attack, which can contribute to the initiation of a new wave of mobilization.

Last week, the day before the attack, Dmitry Peskov broke the psychological barrier by explaining that there was indeed a war going on in Ukraine. It's a way of reminding people that they have to live in times of war. 300,000 men, including new recruits, could soon be sent to Ukraine, according to independent Russian media outlet Verstka.

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