Odessa, Ukraine'

Odessa, Ukraine’s Port City on the Black Sea, Facing Challenges Both on and Off the Battlefield

In Odessa, Ukraine’s port city on the Black Sea, residents face challenges both on and off the battlefield. The conflict has extended to cultural and literary realms as well.

One Odesa resident has fought to remove the statue of Catherine the Great that stands in front of her city’s National Fine Arts Museum. It was a symbol of pro-Russian propaganda that became a source of discord in her city.

UNESCO identifies Odessa as a World Heritage Site

UNESCO, an organization that protects the world’s cultural and natural heritage, has recognized Odessa as a World Heritage Site. The designation is intended to help preserve the city’s landmark buildings and art, and to open access to financial and technical international assistance.

Founded in 1972, the World Heritage Convention aims to encourage countries to identify and protect sites that have outstanding universal value. These include natural and cultural sites that demonstrate exceptional influence on human civilization.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) maintains the World Heritage List, which consists of more than 1,000 properties. Each property is nominated by a country that has signed the World Heritage Convention.

The nomination process is lengthy and requires careful research to show that the property has significance for all people. Then it must be approved by international advisory bodies. If the nomination is deemed to meet the criteria required for Inscription, it’s sent to the World Heritage Committee.

Russian missile strikes hit the port of Odessa

A strike on Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa, crucial for grain exports, was launched by Russian missiles early Saturday morning, Ukrainian officials said. The attack comes a day after Kyiv and Moscow signed an agreement to resume shipments of grain blocked by the war.

Earlier in the day, Russia also fired a barrage of missiles at an airfield and a railway facility in central Ukraine, killing at least three people. The attacks on key infrastructure marked new attempts by the warring parties to tip the scales of their grinding conflict in their favor.

Ukraine’s foreign minister said the missile strikes on Odessa constituted “a spit in the face” of a deal signed by Kiev and Moscow to restart shipments of grain. The attack demonstrates that “Moscow will find ways not to implement the grain deal,” he said.

Russian warships are damaged by Ukrainian forces

Ukrainian forces reportedly damaged, if not sunk, one of Russia’s new warships in the Black Sea earlier this month. Video footage purportedly shows a burning vessel on Snake Island near Odessa, but it is not clear whether or not the ship sank.

The sinking of a Russian landing ship in Berdyansk in late March, and damage inflicted on two more in port there, swelled Russia’s fears about their ships and may have prompted the attack on Odessa, Clark said.

Under international law, naval auxiliaries and merchant vessels flagged in a neutral State are liable to capture as prize or attacked as lawful targets by the enemy if they take part in hostilities. They may also be converted to use after a court of admiralty jurisdiction adjudicates their prize.

The sinking of the Saratov, a landing ship, is especially significant because it was Russia’s most heavily-armed vessel, designed to protect its fleet and carry a huge quantity of supplies. It reportedly had taken part in the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Ukrainian students return home

One year after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Veronika Shchur and her Stetson University roommates, Yana Verbova, Yuliia Balan and Genevia Gayden, grapple with the difference between life before the war began versus life after. They are enrolled in classes at Stetson, which is a few thousand miles from the city of Kyiv where they lived before the war started.

Despite the war’s impact on their homes and their safety, Ukrainian students are keeping up with school, according to their teachers. And for many, it’s a way to stay connected with friends and family back home.

It’s a reminder that while the war is devastating, it also presents an opportunity for people to find new ways to learn and build new communities. Some students are forming support networks with other Ukrainian teens through Skype, Facebook or texting. These friendships can help them deal with stress and anxiety as they cope with the war’s impact on their own lives.

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