Part of the old Soviet Union, Ukraine is now a sovereign state, bordered by Russia to the east, Belarus to the northwest, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland to the west and Moldova and Romania to the southwest. It also has a border with the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in the south.
In this and upcoming posts we are going to look at four the main cities of the Ukraine: Sevastopol, Donetsk, Kiev and Odessa and discover the regional differences between them and their own unique characters.
Sevastopol has a population of just over four hundred thousand people and it lays on the Crimea peninsula in the bay of Sevastopol. Sevastopol has been part of Russian control since Russia controversially annexed it in 2014, it is now a federal city of Russia and is not under the administration of Crimea.
The major economy of Sevastopol is due to its location, it is a port and a military base for the Russian navy. Fishing and trading boats no longer use the deep harbor, this is almost entirely for the navy that now patrols the Black Sea and further out into the Bosporus. The port and the city have industries in lumber milling, shipbuilding, brick making and furniture as well as a number of food processing factories.
Sevastopol is steeped in history, and its present site is of an original Greek settlement that dates to 421. It was a really important Byzantine trading city in the Middle Ages with a strong political role for the region of Crimea. The Tatars invaded in the early 1400’s, until it was transformed into a port by Catherine II on the old Tatar village. In 1783 the Russians annexed it and in 1804 it was heavily fortified and became the base for the Russian Black Sea Navy.
Probably it is the most famous for its part in the Crimean War, the city resisted enemy forces from the British, French, and Turks. Trying to protect the city the Russians scuttled their own fleet at the entrance to the harbor. After the Crimean Peace Conference in 1856, Sevastopol declined as a military fortress and base, but later in 1871 the ramparts were built up once again as its growth as a naval base, once again took dominance.
During the Civil War in Russia the last stand of the White Army was at Sevastopol under the governance of General Wrangel. Sevastopol has been at the center of numerous military campaigns which has shaped its people and culture. During the second World War it was under siege by the German Army for over eight months and the city was virtually razed to the ground. Finally, the defending garrison surrendered in July 1942 to overwhelming force by German and Romanian forces.
In 1944 it once again was reclaimed and the city was transferred to part of the Ukraine with the rest of Crimea in 1954. Today once again its future has changed with the Russian situation, time will tell where its long-term direction will be, that is for the politicians to decide.