Putin managed to enrage his remaining supporters in Ukraine
ODESA, Ukraine – Russia has bombed the seaside town of Odessa since the early days of its war in Ukraine – but the critical grain port has become a symbol of the ongoing local resistance, where even former pro-Russian stalwarts now embrace Ukrainian patriotism.
“The longer the war lasts, the less people sympathize with Russia in Ukraine. Those who used to speak Russian in everyday life are switching to Ukrainian,” a longtime observer of Ukrainian politics, Yevgeny Kisilyev, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “Even the most openly pro-Russian politicians, including the mayor of Odessa…have turned into passionate enemies of [Russian president Vladimir] Putin’s regime.
Odessa, with its huge grain storage and shipping resources, is a hot target for Moscow. Russian missiles have been destroying the city since the early days of the war. In March and April, missiles killed dozens of civilians, including a three-month-old girl, Kira Glodan, her mother and her grandmother.
The tragedy angered Odessa but the slaughter did not stop. On July 1, one of the missiles hit an apartment building in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, killing 19 people. A few weeks later, on July 20, “Russia fired eight missiles that cost millions of dollars, which our forces shot down with a Russian drone,” Natalya Humeniuk, spokeswoman for the Southern Defense Forces, said. to the Daily Beast in an interview last week.
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Relentless attacks from Russia have hardened local feelings against Putin. “During the first week of the war, Odessa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov – who many believed had a Russian passport – said nothing against Moscow,” local activist Julia Grodetskaya told the Daily beast. “The citizens so worried consolidated, and the patriotic volunteers worked hard for the defense of the city. Their actions and the constant Russian violence changed the direction and made the local authorities more patriotic,” she said, adding that now “all pro-Russian elders in Odesans are ready to defend our city.”
This is not how Moscow planned it. On the eve of the war, one of the Kremlin ideologues, Sergei Markov, told The Daily Beast that Russian forces would easily take Odessa. “There will be a rapid landing of the Marines supported by a pro-Russian underground,” Markov predicted of the development of the war on the Black Sea.