Odessa and Mariupol
flamming_python wrote:MASS rally in Donetsk today!
are FAR more important.
If people act the same there - than NATO messed up their game here big time!
Odessa is indeed very important. It's a hero-city of WW2 (was holding out for ages even up until Nazi forces were nearly at the gates of Sevastopol), and inflicted massive amounts of casualties on the Romanian army. So there's the historical and morale significance of it to Russian-speakers in the Ukraine and Russia. Take it, and you'll break the Easterner's resistance, as some might think..
It's the 3rd largest city in the Ukraine overall, and the 2nd largest in Eastern Ukraine.
It's also a major sea-port; it's most probably location for the construction of that LNG terminal that the Americans are promising to the new Ukrainian government (despite the fact that some US officials have already gone on record saying that such a venture would be uneconomical).
A large portion of the Ukraine's overseas trade, not to mention transit to other countries like Belarus, Russia, Baltics, etc... is routed exactly through the port of Odessa.
And the Maidanites know this.
Finally, it's now the new location of the Ukrainian fleet. The new government simply can't afford to lose it.
Now in regards to Mariupol, it's also a port, etc... but with less than half the population of Odessa, and simply just nowhere near as important. It's trade and transit I'd imagine is mainly just for a few Eastern Ukrainian regions and Russia perhaps too.
But most importantly - it's not a provincial capital; Donetsk is - Mariupol is subordinated to Donetsk because the regional administration and structures are in that city. Take Donetsk, and you've taken Mariupol.
Instead, the other strategic city in Eastern Ukraine is indeed Kharkov, also with a very important place in WW2 Eastern Front history, and in the hearts and minds of Russians and Ukrainians.
It's the 2nd largest city in the Ukraine with nearly 1.5 million people, and the main commercial, transit, industrial hub for all the other regions around it. It's got a large economy, industrial base and so on - including many defense industries.
This is exactly why the Maidanites have been concentrating their forces in both Odessa and Kharkov over the past week.
Odessa looks passive for now; despite a mass-rally having taken place 2 weeks ago. It seems many there are against Russian intervention.
Honestly, someone needs to kick-start some activity in Nikolayev and Kherson before we have any chance of seeing Odessa throwing out the Kiev government.
But the battle for Kharkov is still very much on.