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Vladimir Putin is keen to grab the ‘pearl of the Black Sea’, but Odesa has turned into a stronghold

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            A wall of sandbags, barbed wire, and steel tank traps blocks the route to Odesa’s historic opera theatre at a junction near an affluent hotel and across from a high-end clothes store.

The streets around the city centre, which were once thronged with tourists from Russia, Turkey, and America, are now vacant. Russian President Vladimir Putin wishes to isolate Ukraine from its southern shore. A Russian invading force would face significant difficulties on the city’s beaches. Odesa is recognised as the Black Sea’s jewel, and it would be a significant geopolitical prize for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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