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The Black Sea is the watery theater of an ancient, complicated and tumultuous history. This drama has many acts, from prehistory to the Greeks and Romans, to the Ottoman Turks and Constantinople, from the Crusades to the Crimean War and other 19th-century wars, from World Wars I and II to the rise of the Soviet Union and its dissolution in 1991.
The Sea sparkles like a diamond in the rough, with its fishing meccas, historic sites and resorts. It’s surrounded by six countries, each with its own history and cultures: Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. The Black Sea receives water from the Don, the Dnieper, and the Danube rivers. Imagine! It connects to the Mediterranian through the Aegean Sea. The Turkish straits connect the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea and comprise the Bosphorous, the Sea of Marimara, and the Dardenelles. Istanbul is the only city in the world that straddles both Europe and Asia. The Black sea connects the East and the West.
|This map gives a hint of the Black Sea's |
incredible history and potential.
Thus Crimea’s geopolitical direction and complexity is changing again, drastically, and with it the fragile balance of relationships that characterizes the Black Sea. The Sea’s history is like that. It doesn’t move in a linear fashion into the future. It is full of twists and turns, crises and tragedies, the pulls of the past, the push of the present.
“Putin has the entire Black Sea to gain,” General Breedlove notes. “This is why the Kremlin is seeking economic dominance of the Black Sea corridor and energy transit routes and military dominance as well.” The future of the Black Sea looks foreboding.
|Russian troops amassing in eastern Ukraine (yahoo).|
Neal Ascherson, Black Sea (Hills and Wang, 1995/2001 fifth edition).